Men and women who served their countrymen received a unique display of gratitude during the second Freedom Day USA at McKenzie Family Dentistry.

Men and women who served their countrymen received a unique display of gratitude during the second Freedom Day USA at McKenzie Family Dentistry.

Dr. Mike McKenzie and staff members provided a variety of free dental services throughout the day — including X-rays, exams, cleanings, tooth extractions, fillings and other care that could be provided during a same-day visit.

Community partners also helped give back to those who served. Golden Ruler provided notebooks bearing the slogan “Land of the free, because of the brave,” County Market donated cookies and beverages. Nick Broughton, owner of Chigger Creek Wood Products, served pulled pork sandwich lunches.

McKenzie plans to reach out and bring more community businesses on board to expand future Freedom Days.

By noon, 15 veterans had stopped by for services, and staff members expected to help out 20 people by day's end. Area first responders were also invited to come have lunch. One veteran came in needing knee surgery, but he was on a waiting list to remove infected teeth before surgeons would begin the procedure.

“They wouldn't do the surgery until they were [extracted],” McKenzie said. “He couldn't afford the dental services. In my opinion, that shouldn't be able to hinder someone from getting the care they need. He was happy, and we were very happy, too.”

Office manager Carrie Brawley felt the same way, saying that the day's events were pretty amazing. “It's nice to give back to them for everything they've given to us,” she said. “It's a day where it's laid back, it's easy, they're appreciative and we're appreciative.”

Air Force veteran Robert Brummer served in Germany, Libya and New Mexico from 1966 to 1970. He expressed his appreciation for the group effort, commending McKenzie's on efforts to reach out and expand Freedom Day USA in the future. Subsequent events could include activities like haircuts and movies.

Brummer received a full X-ray and teeth cleaning from Hygienist Cheryl Wood, and he said that it means a great deal to receive gratitude for his service. He remembered how some people would leave the U.S. to travel to Canada or other countries rather than join the Vietnam War.

“It's my pleasure that I was able to serve,” he said, stressing that many Americans gave everything. “A lot of good lives were lost in Vietnam. It's too bad we have to fight, but you have to fight to have your freedom.”

Brummer said he looked forward to the potential for peace from North Korea's President Kim Jong-Un's recent actions, noting “we need peace in the world. I've heard it said there won't be any peace until God is at the conference table,” he said.

McKenzie said everyone in the office donated their time, and every staff member has a veteran or active serviceman or woman in their lives. He said he appreciates the chance to help out and make a difference in the lives of those who served for freedom.

“On the banner, it says, 'a day of free for a lifetime of freedom,'” he said. “For one day, we can all get excited about helping those who have given a lot for us and for everyone.”

Brummer said he and fellow veterans were appreciative of what McKenzie and his staff accomplished.

“The Lord has been good to me, and it just seems like I run into people like McKenzie all the time,” he said. “If you treat people good, it comes back — what goes around comes around. So whatever he's doing now for the veterans will come back to bless him.”