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Local senior military veterans honored with personalized gifts

Daily Times-Call - 11/13/2022

Nov. 13—The Bridge at Longmont, a local assisted-living community, was the site of a special ceremony Saturday honoring its 13 U.S. military veteran residents for Veterans Day weekend.

Longmont community members John Nichols and Anand Sharma worked together the last four months to make the ceremony a reality. With help from The Bridge staff, they compiled a list of all of the facility's veterans. In addition to their military history, the list also included their likes and interests, which Nichols and Sharma used to individualize the gifts.

"We're trying to make it personal and be intentional," Nichols said. "It's like, 'Thank you for your service' on steroids."

Nichols and Sharma honored a World War II veteran at The Bridge in 2019, but this year they wanted to make it a bigger event and recognize all of the facility's veterans.

"We wanted to do something nice," Sharma said. "It doesn't cost us anything."

Scouts from Longmont'sBoy Scouts of America Troop 64 came to The Bridge to post the colors, lead the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem. Scoutmaster Phil Henry said even though the scouts were mostly there to observe, it was still a good character-building opportunity.

"They're learning how to serve their community in the future, and that's what we want for the scouts," he said.

The 13 gifts included a Ziggi's Coffee gift card, a portable cornhole game, a Dallas Cowboys blanket, chocolate candies and watercolor paint. Alan Hall, who served in World War II and during the Cold War, received a candle to mark his recent 75th wedding anniversary with his wife.

"I'm thankful that people do remember us, and I also think of those who never had a chance to become a veteran," Hall said.

One of the veterans honored was 100-year-old Francis "Bud" Lovett, who served in the Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II. Lovett spoke to his fellow veterans and guests, emphasizing the importance of understanding and learning from history.

"War doesn't really solve anything except for in the moment," he said. "Study history. Make sense of what's gone before you and seems to be happening again, and do something about it."

As a first-generation Irish American, Lovett received a book of Irish folklore and fairy tales, which he said was a lovely gift.

In addition to their personalized gifts, the guests each received a baseball cap inscribed with their veteran status and were treated to jokes and magic tricks from Sharma and his 10-year-old son, Aakansh.

The Bridge executive director Ralph Borrego — a military veteran himself — stressed that it is integral to engage with veterans and their experiences. He said of all the veterans ceremonies he's attended, this one felt the most homelike.

"That's the epitome of respect, giving them each something so personal," he said. "It's wonderful to see it."


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