With over 30 veterans living at Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, it was fitting that the community gathered in the Shoreline Lounge for a touching ceremony to honor all our military on their special day, Veteran's Day.
Ben Edelman, 95, spoke of his experience in the WWII and as a POW for nearly two years. "The Red Cross parcels kept us alive. We learned to share them and hide the parcels from the Germans so they did not steal our goods. Cigarettes were our currency with the Germans and what we could save for ourselves from the Red Cross, we really learned to share with one another."
Corporal Edelman's account of a nearly 100-mile forced March through the cold, snowy mountains from one camp to another was detoured by his escape from the line. He joined friendly Italian POW's for a short while and then French POW's who betrayed him by turning him back over to the Germans. He re joined his own POW family in reaching their final destination. "I survived because of the Red Cross packages and because I kept a positive attitude -- it really works!" Judging from his presentation, his attitude and feistiness are genuinely appreciated by those who know him 60 years later.
During the ceremony, Walter Blake read the famous poem, "A Simple Soldier" which speaks to the character of a soldier, their uncelebrated, ordinary life that has made such a difference to us all.
As is tradition at Sedgebrook, Mary Ann Karac described the "Empty Table" Ceremony, carefully set to demonstrate the powerful message of honor to the missing military. She explained:
"The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.
The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.
The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.
A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morning's/day's] toast.
The chairs are empty -- they are missing."
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the 21 World War II veterans who have taken the famous Honor Flight to their memorial in Washington D.C., gathered for a photo, to forever memorialize this Veteran Day at Sedgebrook 2012.
Sedgebrook is a premier continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Radford Green is on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. For more information, call 847-901-3319.