SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Veterans Day is not only a time to honor those who have served in the military: For American businesses, it's also a time to back that appreciation up with a freebie.

From left, Dan Ward, Spencer Sorenson, and Joel Dombrowski, march in the annual Erie Veterans Day Parade, in Erie, Pa. (AP Photo/Erie Times-News, Jack Hanrahan)

A slew of locally owned businesses and national chains are offering up something free Tuesday to anyone who has served in the military - a trend that has been growing since the 9/11 attacks.

Veterans can start off their day chowing down a free breakfast at a number of restaurants, including IHOP, which is serving up red, white and blue pancakes. They can then walk off the calories in a national park, which is offering free admission to everyone - and get their energy back with a free 12 ounce cup of Starbucks brewed coffee for current and former military members and their spouses.

Veterans can get a free haircut at Great Clips or a card to redeem one by Dec. 31, and then move on to lunch or dinner without spending a dime at Applebee's, California Pizza Kitchen, and Chili's, among others.

And that's only scratching the surface: There are free appetizers, free beer, free non-alcoholic drinks, free car washes and at select theaters, even free admission to see the World War II film, "Fury," starring Brad Pitt.

"I've been inundated from businesses and restaurants all offering something free tomorrow; it's kind of overkill," said retired Navy Commander David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "There's only one of me and I can only eat one lunch."

While veterans appreciate the deals, many, like Glazier, will miss out because they will be working.

"I hear a lot of veterans complain about that," he said. "The reality is Veterans Day is really only a holiday for banks and a few federal workers, so most veterans aren't able to get off work to enjoy those things that are offered only on Veterans Day."

Glazier plans to go to Knott's Berry Farm theme park, south of Los Angeles, which is offering free tickets to present and former military members and one guest until the beginning of January.

Most veterans are well aware the companies are seizing the opportunity to not only give back but to market themselves, but Glazier said that's not a bad thing.

"To me the real perversion is Memorial Day, because Memorial Day has become a giant party day and sale day for American businesses, yet that is supposed to be the day we honor America's war dead," Glazier said. "Veterans at least are alive and here. So offering a free lunch to them or another sincerely good deal, I think it's a nice thing to do."

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