Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2016
I was ending my twice-a-month piano entertainment for about twenty residents in Panorama’s Assisted Living day room. A sheet of music slipped from a stack of music on the piano. When I reached from the piano bench to recoup it from the floor, the sheet yelled, “Play me next!”
I held the piece above my head, “We need God’s blessing on America, so I will now play God Bless America. You may simply listen, sing, hum, or pray the song.”
As the first note sounded, fragile gentleman in the back of the room stood as tall as his body allowed. His quivering wrinkled fingers reached for his cap, which he held gently against his thin chest. With his head bowed in deep devotion, he lowered his eyelids.
I wondered whether the faint hum floating around the room was from him.
Finally, the ending, “…Ame-ri-ca, my ho-me, sweeeet ho-me.” The gentleman replaced his cap, wiped a tear, and struggled to take his seat.
Everyone was silent. I continued to pack up my music books, but looked up. “Thank you, sir. Thank you for standing for the playing of God Bless America. We appreciate your respect to this patriotic prayer, and it’s not even the Star Spangled Banner.”
Betty, in charge of the entertainment, reiterated, “Yes, John (fictitious name), thank you.”
Asking him questions, we learned that he had flown bomber-missions in WWII. I was admiring one of the last of a few heroes in America from that era.
I pat my good byes on each resident’s shoulder and lastly to the veteran. “Thank you for your service to keep our country safe. We can’t let our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations ever forget those horrible years. I notice the tiny little gold wings on your cap.”
He nodded his head and pointed to his friend in a wheel chair to his left, “This my buddy, Joe (fictitious name). He served in the Air Force, too.
Recognizing the friend’s Veteran cap, I bent down, “I see you have your wings, too! Thank you, sir.
We deeply appreciate your service. We can’t imagine what you two went through to keep us safe. God bless you.”
As I returned back down the first floor of our Convalescent/Rehab Center, I prayed, “Lord God, I place those two veterans and all other vets into Your hands. Help me not ever take them for granted. Please bless our country, despite many times of forgetting You in our daily lives. We have so much for which to be thankful.”