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In service to their country

Maris Grove veterans commemorate comrades-in-arms

Created date

October 25th, 2011

On Nov. 11, Maris Grove s chapel will fill with residents gathered for the Erickson Living community s annual Veterans Day observance. But thanks to Maris Grove s veterans club, a granite monument and memorial walkway in the Cardinal Clubhouse courtyard commemorate veterans from the community s extended family every day. Dick Parsons, Navy veteran and club vice president, founded the group shortly after he and his wife moved to Maris Grove from the King of Prussia area five years ago. Back then the club was loosely structured. Members met in the Brinton Lounge, listened to a guest speaker, and lowered a screen from the ceiling to watch World War II documentary films. Now it boasts officers, dues, and affiliations with other military groups. With 159 members, including two women, it s the largest club on campus. Army veterans make up the majority of the club, followed by Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard vets. On the third Monday of each month, about 50 veterans don baseball caps identifying their service branch and gather outside the Cardinal Theater for donuts (the jelly-donut lovers arrive early so they won t miss out on their favorite). When the donuts are gone, the vets file in for their meeting. The club s affiliation with the Philadelphia chapter of the Military Officers Association of America has helped secure some speakers. Military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have also addressed the group.

Building camaraderie

Club members tend to sit together according to branch of service. That fosters camaraderie, says Dick. New members need only look for an appropriate hat to find someone with similar experiences. Members also don their caps for field trips to places such as the Army s Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Reading Air Show, and Dover Air Force Base. Maris Grove staff handles all the trip logistics from transportation to any paperwork required at the destination.

Commemorating comrades-in-arms

The club launched its ongoing memorial walkway project in 2008. Bordered by bricks bearing the names and service information of donors loved ones, the walkway leads to the granite veterans memorial. More than half of the initial 456 bricks have already been inscribed. Some of the club s proceeds fund equipment and uniforms for the club s color guard. Established this May, it comprises member veterans riflemen Tom Davis and Bob Richmond served with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, respectively. The U.S. flag bearer is U.S. Army Air Corps veteran Jim Goings, and the Pennsylvania state flag bearer is U.S. Army veteran Walter Brun. The color guard took part in Maris Grove s Memorial Day observance and opening ceremonies at the club s September picnic. It will also participate in the Veterans Day observance on November 11.

A place for everyone

Dick and Catherine Parsons researched their retirement before they moved from the King of Prussia area to Maris Grove shortly after the Erickson Living community opened in Glen Mills, Pa. We searched a lot of places, says Dick. Maris Grove s many on-campus amenities really appealed to the couple, as did the setting. It was refreshing to find the hills and history here, he adds. When an apartment home became available that fit exactly what they were looking for, the Parsons decided to move. Their fourth-floor location provides fitting views for a Navy veteran like Dick. It overlooks the flags in the Brinton Clubhouse courtyard that symbolize every war in which the U.S. has participated. Their Fordham-style apartment s living room also boasts a bay window that s the special province of the Parsons two cats. You see, there s a place for everyone at Maris Grove.