Hanks Honor Guard

Armed Forces Honor Guard Outside Funeral Home

Last night, I attended the viewing of a patient who passed away after a long struggle with cancer.  He was 88.  He was also a U.S. Marine and veteran of WWII and the Korean War and was awarded the Purple Heart for bravery in battle.  And he was a 37 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police retiring in 1987 as a sergeant.  In short, he was another proud member of the Greatest Generation.  Men like my father who fought for their country in World War II and if they were lucky enough to return home, contributed their energy, loyalty, and strength to grow the middle class in Philadelphia.

Because of our work at Guardian Nurses, I've attended a lot of viewings and funerals in the last 10 years.  But last night, walking through a row of twelve veterans all holding large American flags gave me goose bumps.  I know Hank would have been very proud of his honor guard.  He was all-Marine. I thanked each one of the veterans, nine men and three women, for coming out to honor Hank as he, too, had done for many of his colleagues and friends prior to his becoming ill.

I enjoyed, too, looking at Hank's life through the photographs displayed on the poster boards.  So often, we meet patients at the end of their lives and the same was true for meeting Hank.  Though he was a strapping 6'5" police sergeant in his heyday, he was not able to walk easily when I met him six months ago.  But looking at the photographs, of Hank alongside his twin engine plane, and of him with his police dog (who surprisingly looked a lot like him!), and of him as the handsome Marine MP, as well as the photos of family members and social events, gave me an appreciation for his life.   And it looked like he had a good one filled with family, friends, colleagues, and his buddies from the Philadelphia Police and the Marines.

Rest in peace, Hank.  You earned it.