A Salute to Our Veterans

Guitar player with flag and a soldier in the background.

Orchid Terrace, the senior living community where my mom lives, held a “Veterans Recognition Ceremony” last Thursday. The ceremony was held one week before the actual Veterans Day. The ceremony happened to be on a day when I was visiting my mom. So, a little before 2 pm, I took her down to the community area where we could attend the ceremony and honor those who have served our country. I sat us right next to the guitar player as I wanted her to be able to hear as best as possible.

It was a simple ceremony, but one deep with meaning and several poignant moments. Please join me as I attempt to recreate the event and honor our veterans.

The residents gathered and were welcomed to the ceremony by a woman from Crossroads Hospice. While waiting for a few others to arrive, she talked with the residents. She asked who had lived at Orchid Terrace the longest. Nobody could remember how long they’ve been there, so she smoothly moved on to other topics. Once everyone had arrived, she started the ceremony.

The atrium room with the piano in the middle and residents gathered around.
The Residents
My Mom

The ceremony began with the guitarist playing our National Anthem.

This woman stood for the National Anthem.
Later, she was recognized for her service in the Navy.
Man in wheelchair wearing a covid mask.  The mask is the flag of the United States.
This man could not stand up,
but his mask spoke volumes.

Next there was a prayer and a reading about veterans. After which, the guitarist played the song, “I’m proud to be an American.” Lieutenant Colonel John Foley then spoke about service. He said if we see a veteran, we should thank that person for his or her service. He said just those simple words to express gratitude can mean so much. He said that was all most veterans needed – just a simple thank you.

A man standing by the flag and reading.
The prayer and reading.
Lieutenant Colonel John Foley

Next Lieutenant Colonel John Foley presented each veteran with a framed “Certificate of Appreciation” recognizing his or her service to our country. Each veteran stood if he or she could. The Lieutenant Colonel would then present the certificate, shake his or her hand, and then, to cap off each veteran’s moment of recognition, a salute was exchanged. Though I could not hear any words spoken, the respect given was loud and clear. It filled the three story atrium room and my heart.

Lieutenant Colonel John Foley and a veteran saluting each other.

Then there was a closing song by the guitarist, and everyone was invited to a nearby room for cake! Of course, my mom and I headed straight there!

We sat by Vern and his son-in-law while we enjoyed some cake and conversation. Vern and my mom are often at the same table in the dining room. Vern is 96 years old. My mom is 98, almost 99.

I asked Vern about his service. He served in the Air Force during WWII, just like my dad. I know my dad was in North Africa and Italy and maybe other places. I asked Vern where he served, but he could not remember. That’s okay if you can’t remember. It doesn’t matter.

Vern and his Certificate of Appreciation
The cake.  It says "Happy Veteran's Day Orchid Terrace... from Crossroads Hospice.

What does matter is that we remember those who served our country. It matters that we show them respect and recognize their service. It matters that we say to them those simple words which can mean so much, “Thank you for your service.”

Orchid Terrace Wall of Honor.  Emblems of the four branches of service are on the wall.  Framed photos of the resident veterans are on the wall.  A sofa table with a flag and some model ships is in front.

So on this coming Veterans Day and actually every day, I say – Thank you to all our veterans for your service. My God bless you and your family.

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