CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- They're such a small token of appreciation in comparison to the service for our country, but on Veterans Day many businesses offer free meals or discounted items to veterans and active-duty members of the armed forces.

There's a mountain of meat at City Barbecue and Cornelius Grace was ready to chow down to some lunch. His meal today was free.

"The recognition for veterans in general, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tremendous," Grace said.

He landed in Vietnam on his 20th birthday back in 1968. After seeing the purple heart on his shirt, NBC Charlotte wanted to learn more about him.

"Several of my buddies were killed, and I was wounded along with several others," Grace said.

Grace was shot through his arm and in the hip. Stories like his aren't hard to find on Veterans Day, and neither are the free giveaways that businesses are offering to those who served.

"It's a long time coming, but it's really worth it," said veteran Cleveland Alexander.

Over at Gastonia Nissan, they were giving away free oil changes and car washes to Veterans. They're doing it every Friday through November.

"I know they don't really have to do it, but I think they do it out of appreciation," Alexander said.

Sometimes overlooked are the families. Leanna Pontow was at Chick-Fil- A Friday, where they're giving away free sandwiches to veterans and active-duty members. Her Son is a 1st Lieutenant at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

"It's awesome," Pontow said. "I salute Chick-Fil-A and anybody else that does similar acts of respect for honoring our veterans. I think it's awesome."

Some other businesses offering discounts to veterans today: Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, and Longhorn Steakhouse.