When it was announced that Rylee McCollum, a Wyoming marine, was among the 13 killed in a suicide bombing at an Afghanistan airport, Wyomingites didn't know how to respond. Some were sad. Some were angry. Some were just confused. But many restaurants, in Wyoming and beyond, decided to do the only thing they could- they raised a glass to the fallen heroes.

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Texas Roadhouse in Casper opted to serve up 13 beers, every day, for the time being.

"We value and support our troops," said Ashley Gilstrap, one of the service managers of Casper's Texas Roadhouse. "That's something that our company, our store stands for. So we just wanted to show our appreciation and just kind of put that up to show remembrance of the troops that lost their lives last week."

Texas Roadhouse wasn't the only Casper restaurant to honor the service people who lost their lives

The C85 Pump Room also offered shots for the fallen.

"The management team and I were kind of just thinking about what we could to to honor these vets," said Jessica Guenther, one of the Pump Room's managers. "And we saw a couple of posts circulating around Facebook and decided to join in, not as a copycat thing, but more as the community coming together in solidarity."

Guenther said they first saw posts from Glenrock restaurants, including the Shoreliner Bar & Grill and Rusty's Knotty Pine Restaurant. She said they were inspired by the idea, and decided to follow suit.

"We just wanted to have a visual representation of our respect for these service members for giving their lives," she said. "Like, we're a bar. We can't do a ton, but we can pour a shot for them."

Guenther said that one of the Pump Room's staff members is friends with the McCollum family, so when news broke that one of Wyoming's own was killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, it hit especially close to home.

"You see this stuff on the news and it's kind of removed from you," Guenther said. "But having it hit so close to home, it really brings a reality to it."

Guenther said that pouring the shots for the fallen wasn't just about remembering those who lost their lives. It was also to honor those who are still serving.

"Men and women are dying every day in the military and we're remembering and we're honoring these 13 but really, for us, it's just an outward expression of our respect for all service members, all of the military."

A phantom drink in a small town restaurant may not mean much in the grand scheme of things. But it's something. It's a gesture; like a nod or a handshake. It's a raised glass that says 'We see you, we thank you, and we honor you.'

In fact, Guenther put it best.

"We respect you," she said. "We honor you. We appreciate you. We owe our lives to you."


Photo Credit: Nick Perkins, Townsquare Media
Photo Credit: Nick Perkins, Townsquare Media
Photo Credit: Nick Perkins, Townsquare Media
Photo Credit: Nick Perkins, Townsquare Media

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