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Photo showing server tending to 91-year-old vet goes viral

A family member receiving a folded flag. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jamarius Fortson)
September 05, 2019

When a Pennsylvania waiter noticed a 91-year-old veteran, he stopped to take the veteran’s order but stayed to hear stories from the man’s life in service.

Lisa Meilander and her family noticed an emotional exchange between a waiter and an elderly man as they visited Eat’n Park in Belle Vernon, Pa., Saturday evening, as she detailed in a public Facebook post. Upon noticing a waiter taking efforts to hear the man speak, they learned he was a veteran who lost his hearing in while serving his country.

“We really didn’t see him come in,” Meilander said in the post. “But we did notice when our server, Dylan, dropped to one knee to look him eye-to-eye as he got ready to take his order.”

Meilander recounted the moment as the veteran apologized to his waiter for his difficulty, as he forgot to put in his hearing aids. She described how the moment between the veteran and waiter Dylan Tetil grew into an opportunity for the two to talk and for the veteran to share his stories.

“He talked about how he lost his hearing during his time in the war. He was 91 years old with many stories to tell.”

Meilander and her family noticed Tetil’s attentiveness as he took the time to listen to the veteran’s stories even during a busy shift, before helping the man choose his order.

“I’m alone now and I don’t often have someone to talk to,” the veteran told Tetil.

“He was very emotional. He was almost crying when he was talking to me, when he was talking about the war. It just really hit a soft spot in my heart, honestly. I almost cried, and I’m not a crier,” Tetil told Veteran’s Site.

Following the moment between Tetil and the veteran, Meilander and her family wanted to share in the kindness and planned to pay for the man’s dinner, but learned another patron who had seen the exchange had already offered to do the same.

“I wanted to offer to pay for the man’s dinner, but before I could flag down Dylan, a man seated at a nearby booth asked Dylan to bring him his check. ‘Someone’s already taken care of it,’ Dylan smiled. I guess we weren’t the only ones eavesdropping on the conversation,” she said.

When Tetil eventually went on a break, he returned to the man’s table and asked if he could sit with him and hear more stories.

“As we left the restaurant the two of them were conversing and many people seated nearby were smiling. It was a touching sight,” Meilander said.

Meilander’s Facebook post describing the event went viral, and has currently garnered over 300,000 likes, over 100,000 shares and thousands of comments.

“I wonder if I would have been as kind and attentive if I were the one working there,” Meilander said. “One thing’s for sure, if you are ever at Eat’n Park in Belle Vernon, ask for Dylan. If he’s your waiter you’re certain to get great service.”