Missouri Veterans Home begins 'Hero's Homecoming' memorial

Thursday, November 4, 2004

"A Hero's Homecoming," is the new procedure implemented at the Missouri Veterans Home when a resident dies.

Residents, employees, volunteers and visitors gather in the lobby for a brief ceremony which includes placing a special patriotic memorial banner over the funeral home covering. A resident also calls out "attention" followed by everyone saluting and placing hands over their hearts while taps is played.

The memorial banners are provided by Cape Girardeau VFW Auxiliary Unit 3838, the result of a "Make a Difference Day," project.

"We welcome new residents through the front door with open arms. Somehow it seemed wrong to send their remains through the back door when they die," said Missouri Veterans Home administrator Jan Rau.

The idea for the program grew out of a conference on end of life care attended by Veterans Home nurse managers and social workers. Missouri Veterans Home director of social services Lori Hayden was responsible for implementing the idea at the Cape Girardeau home. It is the first of the seven Missouri Veterans Homes to begin this program.

Resident veterans have embraced the idea and participate when ceremonies are announced.

"We were comrades in arms and have lived under the same roof for many years," said resident council president and World War II Army combat veteran Charlie Clippard. "I am glad they are leaving the front door with honor and take comfort in knowing the ceremony will be held for me when my number is up."

It will soon be 63 years since America entered World War II. With 90 percent of the home's residents being World War II veterans, Rau said, "this generation is fast moving into history. We now average more than one death per week."

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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