Richmond, Va. –
Independence Day is a holiday often associated with patriotism and United States military veterans. Although the ceremony was a couple of days after the holiday, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and Fort Lee military members honored veterans during an Independence Day ceremony held at the Dunlop House, an assisted living facility in Colonial Heights, Virginia July 6.
“It’s not easy to make it to events like this during the workday,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Nikki Broomfield, military human resources specialist with Resource Management Division, Command Support Directorate, DLA Aviation. “Luckily, we have leadership who support us going out and volunteering in the community, so I was able to build this into my work schedule.”
Army Maj. Alex Shimabukuro, operations officer, Army Customer Facing Division, DLA Aviation, spoke to the group about the significance of the event.
“As we move further along in our careers, it’s our responsibility to remember and honor those who came before us,” said Shimabukuro. “It’s our honor to be here and to be able to give back to a community that gave us so much. We all have mentors who have retired or will retire at some point before us, so we must be thankful for the wisdom and guidance they provided and will continue to provide even as a retired veteran.”
Rachael Barefoot, Dunlop House activities director, was ecstatic to have military members of the DLA and Fort Lee community come out to volunteer and support the ceremony.
“I thought it was very rewarding to see the way the residents’ faces lit up,” said Barefoot. “Even members’ faces in the audience were glowing. Sometimes residents are struggling and to see their faces and personalities come alive make ceremonies like this worth it.”
Although most of the veterans were almost as spry as they were in their youth, they still face new hurdles in their golden years. Henry Pleasants, a Navy World War II veteran, deals with Alzheimer’s and the struggle of memory loss, so events like these strike a powerful emotional cord with him. Henry could not make it to the ceremony because of his condition, so Laura Pleasants, his wife, participated in the ceremony in his place.
Sitting at a gazebo in the memory assisted area of the facility, military members went to visit Henry Pleasants after the ceremony. After a few minutes of bewilderment, he was able to recollect his time in service, a unique blend of years in both the Army and Navy.
“You were able to get through to him,” said Laura as she held her husband who could not express himself through his tears. “He struggles with this every day and sometimes he’s not even aware of anything around him. But, what you did today really mattered to him.”
Broomfield was one of the service members that presented Henry with the certificate of appreciation and a decorative pin after the official ceremony and saw his emotional response.
“At first he didn’t know what was going on,” said Broomfield. “It was like he was in a fog at first, but when he came out [of the fog], the moment hit him hard and it hit me hard too. It was not what I expected. I didn’t realize how much this could mean to someone. I’m happy that I was able to make it out here today.”