For Memorial Day, it was the perfect sign of respect.
The photo of a sandwich board outside Mayberry’s Bar & Grill in the northern Kansas city of Washington that pays tribute to the American servicemen who have lost their lives fighting for their country has gone viral.
“We have 619,300 reasons to be closed on Monday,” is written in chalk on the sign, referring to U.S. service deaths from World War I, World War II and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sign was the idea of Mayberry’s employee Kelly Ray, the Wichita Eagle reported. Ray moved from Missouri to northern Kansas earlier this year, and he brought a sign he made while working at a previous restaurant. Mayberry’s would be closed on Sunday and on Memorial Day, but the sign posted outside the restaurant would be photographed and shared across social media. By late Sunday it had been shared more than 109,000 times.
“I just love the message,” Ray told the Wichita Eagle on Sunday. “You don’t have to like our president or like some of the things our government is doing, but you sure better respect those who have laid down their lives for us to be able to live here.”
According to official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs numbers, and depending on how deaths are calculated, the sign totals are not completely accurate, but the message is still relevant.
Ray told KWCH that many patrons have thanked him for putting up the sign. One veteran thanked him in person, but Ray, who is the restaurant’s manager and chef, stopped him.
“I said, ‘No, thank you,’” Ray told KWCH. “You guys are the reason we’re here and we appreciate that.
“He said ‘Damn shame more people don’t think like that,’” Ray said.
Ray said the idea for the sign was formed when he worked at a Missouri restaurant.
“I mentioned to the owner that we should be closed for Memorial Day, and he said, ‘I can’t think of one good reason why we would do that, because people are going to be out and they’ll want to eat,’ ” Ray told the Wichita Eagle. “I saw a post on Facebook with the number of people who have died in our wars, so I basically just put that on a sign and showed it to him.”
The owner closed the restaurant.
“People talk about Memorial Day being the start of summer and that sort of thing,” Ray told the newspaper. “But what it’s really about is those people who died. I hope people think about them.”