Ernest Walker (Image: CBSDFW screen grab)

In a gesture that is unfathomable, the branch of the restaurant chain Chili’s in Cedar Hill, Texas, removed the plate of food it had served a veteran of the armed forces just as he was lifting his fork.

Ernest Walker, the vet, was responding to the restaurant’s offer to provide a free meal to veterans and active service members on Veterans Day.

The incident began when another patron in the restaurant approached Walker and said to him, “They didn’t let you blacks over in World War II.” The claim isn’t true – blacks have been serving in the armed forces since at least the Civil War – but it is a moot point in any case, since Walker is only 47.

The customer then headed to the rear of the restaurant where he presumably told management that Walker was not an actual veteran.

Moments later, a manager approached Walker’s table and told him, “Sir, we have guests that say that you are not a military veteran.” He began to lift up the plate in front of Walker when the latter presented his military identification and discharge papers.

A followup story in the Dallas Morning News advises that the manager of the branch has been placed on leave, and Chili’s has apologized for its employee’s insensitivity.