ANSON, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s no secret that the Big Country loves its Veterans, but one Anson restaurateur is honoring local heroes in a particularly aesthetic way.

Navy Veteran and Anson local Michael Tipton hails from a strong military family. After being discharged, he said he wanted to come up with a way to honor other Veterans. Upon opening Tipton’s Old Anson Diner across from Bethel Assembly Church, he began his journey to honor Vets by displaying his family’s military memorabilia.

“I collected a lot of my own family’s (photos)… I didn’t retire but I was proud of my service. It’s the best thing I ever did,” said Tipton.

About 10 years ago on Veterans Day, Tipton’s Old Anson Diner started cooking. Over the last decade, Tipton’s collected and hung countless photos from local soldiers.

“I started getting pictures of locals, and then people started bringing them to me,” Tipton explained.

The vision lining the walls of the dinner, according to Tipton, was to create a community space so that younger generations could learn about the sacrifices made by others, and maybe even inspire them in the process. Even other Veterans have been moved to take in the display.

“I got one retiree that, when he comes, he’ll sit at this table and he’s back there by himself, and I’ll check, ‘is waitress checking in on you?’ He’s like, ‘oh yeah, I just like to sit back here because I feel like I’m in good company,'” shared Tipton.

The walls are filled with Veterans dating back to the Civil War, to World War II, and all the way to today. On the wall, you can find the photo of Vietnam War Army Veteran, Cecil Bernal.

“Heck, I turned 19-20 down there. I didn’t think about it, I knew it was scary, I knew,” Bernal initiated.

Recalling stories of both battle and his return home, Bernal told KTAB/KRBC he served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. When he made his way to an airport to go home, he said there were so many soldiers saying their goodbyes to Vietnam. But it was fear he felt thinking about not going home as a young man.

“[A] Bunch of young guys with their girlfriends, you know, going to Vietnam, and here I am coming back,” recollected Bernal. “So, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know you may make it, you may not.”

Also on the walls of Tipton’s Old Anson Diner is Army Veteran Bryce Basham. He served from 2002 until 2010.

Basham said other towns have monuments or some form of display to honor Veterans. So, Tipton honoring Vets at his restaurant is just what Anson needed.

“[Other places show] Different wars and different eras on bricks, and stuff like that, and since Anson doesn’t have that, this is the next best thing you can do,” Basham said.

Feeling proud to have his photo up alongside other local heroes, Basham continued, “It means a lot to me because I feel everybody that serves, there should be a memory of them somewhere.”

Tipton told KTAB/KRBC he hopes to one day have all the walls filled with Veterans. Why? He said we need to preserve its history and honor those who have fallen.

Tipton, Bernal, and Basham – alongside other Veterans – will honor local heroes who have passed at Mount Hope Cemetery at 10:00 a.m. in Anson Saturday, kicking off Memorial Day. With a celebration and ceremony. these Vets invite the community to volunteer to display American flags and enjoy a free meal.