Owner Jackie Kennedy has transformed The Farmhouse into a tribute to her son and all of those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.
The Banning restaurant is filled with photos and mementos of the late Joshua M. Palmer, a First Lieutenant with the U.S. Marine Corps. Palmer was killed on April 8, 2004, from injuries suffered during hostile fire in Iraq. He was 24.
Outside the restaurant, a large banner showing Palmer with Iraqi children is draped in front of the entrance. Inside, there are poems and quilts in his honor, as well as U.S. flags and various items with stars and stripes or red, white and blue motifs.
“It started when the war started,” Kennedy said of her collection. “Everybody should be aware of what men and women do to give us freedom in our lives.”
The newest additions to the collection are flags in front of the restaurant representing all the branches of the military.
“I was really happy to find that, because all services do a phenomenal job,” Kennedy said.
Customers - and Farmhouse employees - love the decor, and often comment on it.
“The reaction has been absolutely terrific,” Kennedy said. “We love people who love our country and service people.”
She was afraid that some people might not like the items, but “so far, I haven’t heard anything,” she said. “If it offends someone, they need their hearts mended, and I don’t need them in the restaurant.”
After his death, the road in front of The Farmhouse was renamed in honor of Palmer, and is now known as Joshua Palmer Way.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal, and a blessing,” Kennedy said. “When I write out bills and put our return address, to have my son’s name there is wonderful.”
Palmer was also recognized alongside U.S. Army Specialist Michael A. Dahl Jr. last Thursday, when plaques with their names and images were installed at the Highland Springs Medical Plaza. Dahl was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.
“It’s an honor to know he’s being remembered and not forgotten,” Kennedy said. “It’s been seven years, but it feels like just yesterday.”
Kennedy has met with her son’s fellow soldiers, and knows that he saved lives the day that he died. Recently, a unit member came to visit, and after hugs and tears, he shared memories of Palmer and details on his last moments.
“He confirmed the fact of how many men were saved,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said she is proud to be patriotic, and on Memorial Day and every day, she says, “God Bless America.”