Commentary: This Flag Day touched my heart

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John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
Phone: (860) 276-6299
Email: Demellofam@gmail.com

We take life for granted way too often. Every night we go to sleep believing that the sun will shine tomorrow and nothing will ever happen to disrupt our little piece of the world.

Life does not always work the way we want it. God sometimes reminds us how precious health and life is.

On Friday, June 14 the Southington Veterans Committee was invited to The Orchards at Southington, an outstanding assisted living care community, for their Flag Day ceremony and the dedication of their veterans wall of honor. The dedication ceremony was aimed at their military veteran residents.

It was a truly great honor to attend and to see those residents who served from World War II through the Vietnam War. Their youth, and sometimes their health, has faded. Their memories might not be as clear as they once were. But looking into their eyes, I could see the once vibrant and amazing individuals that have experienced so much history of life, family and country.

I watched husbands holding hands with their wives; sons and daughters holding or hugging their parents. I will remember the love that was shown and the staff that was there to help in any way.

After the ceremony, my fellow veterans committee member Rachel Wache and I had the privilege of attending another Flag Day ceremony at “Live Well” in Plantsville. It was another amazing community care center for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

The staff at Live Well was truly amazing and upbeat with the residents…and with us. We were able to speak to the staff, the residents, and the veterans in attendance—all proud of their military service and their specific branch of the military.

Once again, we saw amazing people who lived, worked and committed their lives to their community, state and nation. It was truly an honor to be part of an amazing ceremony with amazing residents and staff.

As we were leaving Live Well, we saw a gentleman sitting in the lobby with his arm around his wife. He was playing soft music on his iPhone. He was wearing a U.S. Marine Corp shirt.

I asked him if he was in the Marines. He stated with pride, “Yes. I retired with over 20 years as a gunnery sergeant.”

His wife, with these big beautiful eyes, kept falling in and out of a short sleep, staring up at us when she was awake. He told us that she cannot speak anymore, but you could see his pride when he told us that that they have been married for 56 years. He told us that he drives a long distance every day just to be with her, and I could see the sadness in his eyes when he told us he couldn’t take care of her anymore.

“I had to put her here to live where she can get the proper care she needs,” he said. He went on to say that even though she cannot communicate, he can still visit her every day just to hold her and tell her how much he loves her.

I can tell you that the residents, patients and staff at The Orchards and Live Well touched my heart that day. The good Lord wanted us to meet some special people that day, and we did.

John DeMello is a member of the Southington Veterans Committee. The committee can be reached at Town Hall, 75 Main St., by phone at (860) 276-6299, or by email at SouthingtonVets@southington.org.