All Things Soldier: Putting The Kibosh To A Kentucky National Guard’s Waffle House Meal

10-2-2015 12-52-50 PMMany times after a long day of delivering Athens Now, my crew and I will land for about 30 minutes at the Chick-fil-A on Hwy 72 in Athens. It is always a welcome break, and as an unapologetic people watcher, I love to watch families, sports teams, kids on dates, and for that matter, just the community at large be treated well by the staff before they sit down to their meal. Over the 4+ years that we have done this, often times there are patrolmen from the Athens Police force who come in for their lunch break and sometimes they meet their families. They always enter the facility with their service weapons in plain sight, something that I for one find comforting, and I imagine that most of us do.

However, apparently the corporate powers-that-be of the Waffle House chain do not. They have no qualms in instructing their restaurant owners to, for example, ask a KY National Guardsman, (who had his sidearm strapped in plain sight on his person) to leave the facility due to the fact that he came into the restaurant armed. Now, while I understand that technically the function of a particular state’s National Guard is different from that of the local police, from whence cometh this “restaurant-al ridiculousness?” I could see this kind of thinking coming out of the Peoples’ Republics of California or Colorado, but for crying out loud, Waffle House has its headquarters in Georgia!! What makes it worse is that the incident in question, which I’ll describe in a moment, happened in Kentucky!

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The National Guard is the oldest branch of the military in America, having been established in 1636. Its members have a dual function as citizen-soldiers: they answer to the governor of their individual states as well as to the Commander In Chief of the United States. According to the NG website, “the National Guard provides protection of life and property, and preserves peace, order and public safety.”

Wow, that sounds strangely like a police officer, does it not? Would you feel more comfortable if an on or off duty police officer was told to put their weapon in the glove box during lunch, and some flaming nutcake mows down the occupants of a McDonald’s, simply because it’s a population dense environment that statistically is not prepared to defend itself? I think not.
Yet, while Waffle House claims that it has no problem allowing an armed police officer into one of its stores, for some reason the same courtesy and common sense cannot be extended to a citizen-soldier who also puts his or her life on the line in order to keep us safe. Here’s what went down.

Billy Welch, a member of the Kentucky National Guard, stopped by the Nicholsville, KY Waffle House to have breakfast. He was in uniform, armed, gave the waitress his order, and then was informed by the manager that he would have to take his service weapon outside. He replied by saying, “Thank you, but no thank you. I’m gonna have to leave.”
“You know, if I can’t have my firearm, then I can’t be here,” Welch said later in an interview. “I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me. I always keep it with me.” While he wasn’t going to make an issue of it, thankfully “La Force du Facebook” saw to it that the incident went viral, and Billy is being defended by other “citizen-soldiers,” the ones who are proving that at times the cyber-pen is mightier than the sword. I hope the good ol’ boys in Georgia buy a clue, buy the boy his breakfast, and let him eat in peace with his piece.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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