American military holidays and the men and women who gave so much, some their lives, for this country are well celebrated at Sedgebrook, a senior living community in Lincolnshire. On the 4th of July, veterans from WWII and Korea waved proudly from cars marked "Sedgebrook" in Lincolnshire's parade. Other residents took a bus to watch the pageantry. Of the 80-plus veterans living at Sedgebrook and its neighboring Radford Green, many are still deeply involved in the activities and missions that commemorate U.S. military service and keep it on the front lines of current consciousness.
As head of Sedgebrook's ROVEOs (Retired Old Vets Eating Out), resident and WWII veteran Al Johnson makes sure that residents who are veterans are aware of, and have access to, such programs as the Honor Flight and VetsRoll. Both missions provide veterans across the country with transportation to Washington, D.C., to visit their war memorials, the Honor Flight by plane and VetsRoll by bus. On the VetsRoll in May, Al enjoyed visiting Arlington National Cemetery as well as its Women's Memorial, which commemorates the two million women who have supported U.S. military efforts since the Revolutionary War.
Sedgebrook resident Sarah Aikens is one such woman, having served the Army Corps of Engineers as an office assistant just out of high school. "Everyone was involved in the war effort in some way; everyone did what they could," said the Atlanta native who worked for the U.S. Government for 23 years. Learning that she was eligible to go on the VetsRoll as a "Rosie the Riveter," Sarah told Al she wanted to go. "I had so much in common with the people on the tour, so much to talk about," she said. Al, who also took an Honor Flight, agreed: "In addition to visiting our war memorials, we got to hear so many stories of veterans from so many backgrounds."
Al's own story is remarkable enough to have been singled out at a dinner for 350 people on the VetsRoll. "That was a big surprise," said Al, who was sent by the Army Air Force to both Ripon College in Wisconsin and Stanford University to study engineering as a young serviceman. From 1944-1946, he was an atomic bomb plotter on the Manhattan Project. Currently, Al joins with other Sedgebrook vets to discuss issues that affect veterans and, with the support of Sedgebrook staff, implement special programs that honor veterans and military servants.
On Memorial Day this year, Sedgebrook veterans took a bus to the Lincolnshire Memorial Day Ceremony, where they were recognized by the event's speaker, Commander Mike Thibodeau, executive officer of Naval Station Great Lakes. Other Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs at Sedgebrook have included an empty table ceremony (honoring those veterans missing in action), "Taps" and other patriotic music, the presidential proclamation and other historical readings. ROVEOs also host special guest speakers; in August, Major General James H. Mukoyama, Jr. will speak to the entire Sedgebrook community about his long, illustrious military career.
Sedgebrook community resources coordinator Ryan Springer is honored to be in daily contact with the veterans who embody a precious living history. "It's amazing that I'm able to work for and talk with people who experienced a war that impacted so many lives, and I get to hear about all the different aspects of life during that time. Everyone had a part in the war and has a story to tell."
Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit www.welcometosedgebrook.com or call 847-901-3319.