So many losses to grieve at Galloping Gertie's

So many losses to grieve at Galloping Gertie's »Play Video
LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- The sign outside Galloping Gertie's doesn't sell the day's hamburger or macaroni soup special.

"I won't do that," said owner Sue Rothwell.

Instead, Rothwell dedicates the sign to soldiers killed in war, some of whom used to be her regulars.

Thursday morning, she cleared the board to make room for more.

"We think about the war every day, because soldier are here in uniform," she said.

There are so many in fatigues that Rothwell's restaurant resembles a mess hall.

"This is home for the soldiers. This is their safe place," she said.

And when one of Gertie's customers dies, everyone aches.

"My cooks came over and said, 'Oh, my gosh, that's Mr. Hot Sauce,' because he loves the Spanish omelet," said Rothwell.

Every casualty has a name.

"Every day, I change the Afghanistan number," said the owner.

Every name goes on the outside board, every face on the inside wall.

"Those pictures I think about taking down," said Rothwell. "But every day, soldiers stand here to pray and touch a photo -- actually touch it."

The cashier at Galloping Gertie's is worried. Her son is leaving for Afghanistan. His photo is behind the register, just a few feet away from the bulletin board filled with fallen soldiers.

"I always connect that (my son's picture) with that (board of fallen soldiers) all day long, and I get scared," said Deanna Lawsen.

The restaurant receives thank you notes. Sometimes they come in person. A young, scarred soldier stopped by this week after seeing the sign.

"(He) said, 'Thank you for doing that. I was with those two guys when they died, and I was the one that survived,'" said Rothwell.

And Gertie's signs are Rothwell's way of thanking the soldiers.

But Rothwell says she'd love to see the day when she could stop putting names on her sign. But she says she won't stop until the war is over.