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By Matt Mallio

Originally published in The Beacon on Nov. 16, 2017. Reprinted with permission.


Life Care Center of Acton [, Massachusetts,] honored its veterans in residents Friday afternoon in a ceremony that included songs, poems and embroidered stars given to each of the veterans. The stars were prepared by the Emblem Club of Maynard [, Massachusetts,] and have a special story behind them.


Honored with stars


When an American flag has been battered by weather and wind to the point where it can no longer be flown, it is disposed of in a special ceremony. However, a resident of Maynard, Emma Bendall, thought of another use for them.


Debbie Bendall, Emma’s mother, said her daughter is a nursing student at UMass, a past president of the National Honor Society at Maynard High and a member of the Maynard Emblem Club. As a National Honor Society project, Emma asked for and received special permission to cut the stars from some large flags ready for disposal. She gathered with the rest of the National Honor Society, and they worked to cut the stars from the flags. Emma wrote a poem to accompany the stars, and they were sent to veterans both overseas and in the community.


As Emma also worked at the Life Care Center of Acton, she wanted the stars to go to her friends there was well.


“She wanted to honor them,” said Debbie.


The program


In a room full of veterans and their families, songs were sung, poems were read and stars were presented to the facility’s veterans or their family members. Members of the Maynard Elk’s Club as well as members of the Maynard Emblem Club were on hand. The songs of all the military branches were sung, as well as “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and, of course, the national anthem.


Poems were read by members of the facility’s staff and administration, including the executive director, Christopher Foye; director of business development, Dave Coughlin; assistant director of nursing, Catherine Dawson; and Chaplain Jane Brigham.


Coughlin, in the ceremony’s closing remarks, quoted President John. F. Kennedy, saying: “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”


“There is no better place to do just that than here today,” Coughlin said.


“We honor you, we salute you, we celebrate you and we thank you,” he added.