“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”
-President Abraham Lincoln in The Gettysburg Address, 1863
Abraham Lincoln’s speech is a reminder of the sacrifice so many have made for our freedom. It certainly influenced Drusilla (Dru) Ford in her decision to work with veterans at the Freedom House on the VA Illiana Health Care (VAIHC) campus in Danville, Illinois. Furthermore, serving veterans is a way for Dru to honor her father who fought in World War II.
Across the VAIHC campus, it is important that every veteran is honored and remembered for their service to this country. When someone passes away, the American flag is draped across his or her bed and personal mementos are displayed in the room. Family, friends and staff have time to reflect, grieve and celebrate with each another. “When someone passes away” stated Dru, “it truly feels like I have lost a family member.”
Building strong, intimate relationships with each veteran is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job as a Shahbaz. In her own family, it is a ritual to launch balloons shortly after an individual passes away. She presented this idea to both Green House homes and on July 4th, the first balloon launching ceremony commenced. Veterans shared stories and sang God Bless America. It was such a memorable experience that the veterans asked that this become a standing ritual in both Green House homes.