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Veterans Day comes early on a visit with history

On this Veterans Day, we offer tribute to all American veterans—particularly those among us who have served our nation during war or peace time. PHS communities are holding, services of recognition and celebration to honor residents who served in the military. Many of these events will welcome local chapters of the American Legion and VFW. 

Veterans Day came early for seven veterans who live at Waverly Gardens in North Oaks, MN. They traveled to Fleming Field in South St. Paul, MN on October 22, 2019, to visit the WWII museum of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF)—Minnesota Wing. They were honored guests of CAF, which was founded in 1971 to acquire, restore and preserve a collection of US combat aircraft. The museum is home to six aircraft, a large motor pool fleet and a unique collection of WWII artifacts. 

The veterans gravitated towards the star of the museum: a restored B-25J Bomber, a.k.a. “Miss Mitchell.” This aircraft holds a special place in the hearts of the Waverly Gardens veterans. On October 4, 2019, they, along with more than a dozen other veterans at Waverly Gardens, were honored by signing their names on the wing tips of a model plane that replicates Miss Mitchell. That special day was captured by Fox 9 News and in the PHS Perspectives Blog post “Signatures of Honor”.

At the CAF Museum, the veterans were able to see and touch Miss Mitchell in all her gleaming steel glory. Some even climbed up into the cockpit and sat in the seats of the pilots and gunners. Chuck Shubat, veteran of the 20th Air Force Pacific Mission, looked up wistfully at the craft. “There’s a lot of history here,” he said. He would know. Chuck served as crew meteorologist on a B-25 bomber that flew in the South Pacific. He pointed up at the window over the seat where he was positioned. “I know that spot all too well,” he reminisced.

As the visiting veterans walked around Miss Mitchell and the other aircraft and memorabilia in the museum, they asked the museum volunteers questions and exchanged stories and memories with each other.

Anne Bidne, who served during WWII in the US Naval Women’s Reserve, better known as the WAVES, was touched by a special exhibit at the museum set up for the visit. It displayed military portraits of her and the other Waverly Gardens WWII veterans with details about their rank and service. “We didn’t come back to any special recognition, so this is special. And we’re still here,” she said. 

Veterans Day is set aside to commemorate the soldiers, sailors and airmen who are still here. Today, we salute the veterans of Waverly Gardens and all the veterans we serve and with whom we serve at PHS: residents, clients, volunteers, staff and family members, for defending our nation, our values and our freedom. Thank you!

The origins of Veterans Day
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11, 1921 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. November 11 became a federal holiday by act of the US congress in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the act in 1954 and Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.

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