Seymour McDonald’s restaurants honor veterans


Schools, police departments, fire departments and veterans are important to George Saliba and his company, Saliba LLC.

Veterans Day was Monday, and the focus was on those who have served in the military, including the brave men and women who lost their lives defending America.

Prominently displayed in each of Saliba’s 13 McDonald’s restaurants in Kentuckiana was a table draped in a tablecloth with a folded flag placed on a plate, silverware, a framed message and a vase of flowers.

That included the Seymour stores at 427 Stevens Way and 913 E. Tipton St.

“We’re big with our schools, we’re big with our police departments, with our fire departments and I’m very big with our veterans. These are the areas where we try to make a positive difference,” Saliba said.

“For any city to flourish, you need to have a good school system, you need to have a good police department, you need to have a good fire department and the veterans are the people that have already served, so this is our thank you to them, that they should never be forgotten,” he said.

As a first-generation immigrant and business owner, Saliba said the displays showed veterans that he appreciates and values them.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ because so many veterans come into our McDonald’s every single day, and we don’t even know they’re veterans,” he said. “I don’t get a chance to say ‘thank you’ to them because I don’t know that they have served, but doing a display like that sends a message to all of the people that have served — the people that are in uniform and the people that are no longer in uniform — thank you.”

Also Monday, veterans were treated to free breakfast at Saliba’s stores. It was another simple gesture to thank them for their service.

“To me, you look at the veterans and they have sacrificed so much to serve us. The least we can do is to serve them one day,” he said. “It’s nothing more than a token of appreciation, letting them know how much we apprecitae them and letting them know how thankful we are. For somebody to just acknowledge them, we’re all human, and we all need that ‘Hey, thank you’ once in a while.”

During the grand reopening of the Stevens Way store in April, Saliba and Matt Dodd, vice president and director of operations of Saliba LLC, presented checks to Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman on behalf of the city’s police and fire departments and John Schafstall with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925.

Giving to a veterans organization was special for Saliba because he said without their sacrifice, he would not have been able to have the opportunity to come and live the American dream.

The Lebanon native began working for McDonald’s in 1985 after coming to America and earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2012, he started a family-owned company overseeing McDonald’s restaurants in Kentuckiana.

Saliba’s patriotism also has been on display at his restaurants by ensuring American flags fly on poles outside.

“That’s the symbol of freedom for me,” he said. “That’s the symbol of my struggle coming from Lebanon and being in the civil war and coming in and having the opportunity to life in a free country. Anything I can do to show my appreciation, I will do it.”

Saliba said he appreciates what it’s like to be a veteran because in his home country during the civil war, they were fighting for their freedom and survival.

Still today, people in Lebanon struggle to find jobs and opportunities, and he said people would do anything to have the opportunity to come to the United States to enjoy the freedoms Americans have.

“I have a lens to what’s happening in my old country, and I see that they don’t have the freedom, they don’t have the opportunity, they don’t have the job, even the simple thing of not having electric all day, not having water all day, not having the security to be able to do whatever you want to do,” he said. “I see myself living here in the United States, it’s a blessing that I value and I appreciate every day.”

Saliba said several of his employees have left to serve in the military, and Dodd said they happily hire veterans.

“We as business leaders have to do everything we can to give them an opportunity to serve the community, to continue to care for their family. I want to do everything we can to make sure when they come back that they have a job that they can go to,” Saliba said.

“We actively search for veterans employees because they are fabulous,” Dodd said. “They are structured. They are very good with training. There’s a lot of things that they bring to the table.”

On Monday, they set the table for veterans.

“Being able to own and operate one of the most iconic brands in the world would not have been possible without our veterans. These people have given everything they’ve got,” Saliba said.

“George’s big thing is he has been able to live the American dream being an immigrant to the U.S., and without the veterans, it would have never been possible,” Dodd said. “Look at the American dream he has lived now. I’m proud to work with George.”

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