​World War II veteran James “Jim” Shelby was honored for his service recently at his son’s home in Mayfield Village by his Hospice of the Western Reserve (HWR) home care team. The nonprofit agency conducted a virtual veterans recognition ceremony, bringing together Mr. Shelby, his family and loved ones through the use of remote technology. Taking part in the virtual ceremony were Mr. Shelby’s daughter, Helen; his sons, Kevin and Dennis; his girlfriend Doris and her daughters Linda and Cindi. Hospice social worker Kristine Burkwood, RN Sarah Orosz and volunteer service manager Tina Thonnings were also present. 

Conducting the recognition ceremony was HWR volunteer, Don Stark, a combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. Lance Corporal Stark has been a volunteer for 12 years, including nine years devoted to caring for veterans through the agency’s Peaceful & Proud initiative. The program provides specialized end-of-life care, veteran-to-veteran companionship and recognition ceremonies to honor veterans for their military service. 

Following the reading of patriotic reflections, the “Call to Colors” was played. Stark stood at attention as he saluted Master Sergeant Shelby and thanked him for his service. Hospice of the Western Reserve also presented the veteran and his family with a special commemorative pin and certificate.

Master Sergeant Shelby served in the U.S. Army for three years and fought in one of the pivotal battles of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. Sir Winston Churchill called it “the greatest American battle of the war.” Fought in the Ardennes region of Belgium, the battle was Hitler’s last major offensive against the Western Front. His goal was to split the Allies as they drove on toward Germany. The German troops’ failure to divide Britain, France and America paved the way to victory for the Allies. As the Germans drove into the Ardennes, the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, giving rise to the battle’s name. The battle proved to be the costliest ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered more than 100,000 casualties.

Mr. Shelby was at rapt attention throughout the ceremony, listening intently to every word. Afterwards, one of his sons said: “I haven’t seen my dad smile like that in a long time.”