Bucks County senior living community joins nationwide movement to create a space to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by those who served in the military
DOYLESTOWN, PA. (November 2021): – Pine Run Retirement Community marked Veterans Day 2021 with several events, including the dedication of a “Never Forget Garden,” part of a nationwide initiative to plant gardens and place specially made markers to recognize, remember and honor U.S. veterans.
Part of the Doylestown Health network, Pine Run every year honors veterans who live at each of its locations: independent living at The Village, personal care at Pine Run Lakeview, and skilled nursing and memory care at The Pine Run Health Center. Veterans were honored at a special recognition breakfast held on Veterans Day at each location.
“From our annual veterans’ breakfasts to the veterans’ memorial at The Village to the Military Order of Pine Run, we are all committed to pausing to recognize the service and sacrifice of our Pine Run residents and associates who served in the military,” said Maria Santangelo, Executive Director of Pine Run Retirement Community. “We thank them for their dedication and devotion on Veterans Day and every day.”
This year’s Veterans Day festivities included the unveiling of the community’s new Never Forget Garden. Pine Run resident Thomas J. Barnett, a veteran, first approached Pine Run administrators about the Never Forget Garden in 2019. Barnett served as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from 1953 to 1954 and is a life member of the tomb’s Society of the Honor Guard, which first proposed the nationwide Never Forget Garden project.
“The Never Forget Garden is really based on the Tomb guards’ motto,” said Barnett. “We have a motto that says, ‘A soldier never dies until he is forgotten. Tomb guards never forget.’”
The Never Forget Garden initiative gained steam as the Society of the Honor Guard organized events for 2021 to mark the 100th anniversary of the tomb’s creation. Ohio-based stone sculpture company Carruth Studio was commissioned to create a marker for the project. The stone marker reads, “This garden is a living tribute to all of America’s veterans and their families. In silence and respect, this is a place to remember why millions of Americans have fought and died for our liberty and our freedom. Here we renew our promise to fulfill America’s sacred duty to never forget. Here we renew our mutual pledge to support them with: ‘our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.’” Hand cast in stone by the company in Waterville, Ohio, the markers can be purchased for $115.
Planning for Pine Run’s Never Forget Garden began in May 2019 and carried on throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Barnett headed a project committee that included Pine Run staff members and residents, some veterans, some not. Several people donated their talents to the project, including Pine Run resident Derek Sutphin, a retired landscape architect who volunteered to design the garden, and Marc Stine, Pine Run’s Grounds Supervisor, who installed the plantings.
Pine Run’s Never Forget Garden expanded on an existing veterans’ memorial garden at the retirement community in Doylestown Township. Like most gardens, it is a work in progress. In summer 2020, seven river birch trees were planted to form the perimeter of the garden. In fall 2020 and spring 2021, perennials were planted, chosen for their symbolic meaning from a list of plants recommended by the Society of the Honor Guard:
- Red roses: commitment
- White roses: purity
- Azaleas: innocence
- Peony: honor
- Primrose: eternal love
- Bellflower: gratitude
- Forget-me-not: remembrance
- Violets: faithfulness
When Stine was overseeing the final round of perennial plantings, he also added clusters of annuals in red, white and blue, to give the garden a pop of patriotic color.
“This was really a group effort,” said Barnett. “Each person contributed, and we all worked together to make it happen. It took longer than we expected, but it was worth it.”
Barnett and the other committee members hope many Pine Run residents and their families will visit the garden.
“This garden is not just for veterans. It’s a place of memories. Anyone can visit the garden and think of someone they might have lost,” Barnett said. “When they remember them, that keeps their memory alive. The person isn’t really dead because they are still being remembered.”
Officially approved by the U.S. Congress in March 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created in Arlington National Cemetery during World War I to house “the body of an unknown American warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and who typifies, moreover, the soul of America and the supreme sacrifice of her heroic dead,” according to New York Congressman Hamilton Fish III, a veteran of World War I who introduced the legislation creating the tomb.
An unknown serviceman from World War I was buried at the tomb on Nov. 11, 1921. Over the years, unknown service members from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were buried at the tomb, though advances in DNA technology enabled the Vietnam service member, Air Force officer Michael Blassie, to be identified in 1998 and returned to his family. The empty crypt at the tomb was rededicated in 1999 to honor all service members missing in action from the Vietnam War.
Since 1937, guards have watched over the Tomb of th
e Unknown Soldier 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like Barnett, they all volunteered for the duty and underwent extensive training. Those who are chosen to serve as guards rotate through shifts to keep watch over the tomb every minute of every day, in every kind of weather. Their elaborate marching routine and changing of the guard is a major attraction for visitors to Arlington National Cemetery.
About Pine Run: Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is one of Bucks County’s leading senior living and senior care providers, with 272 independent living cottages and 24 apartments situated on a beautiful 43-acre private campus. The campus is home to Pine Run Health Center, which offers rehabilitation services and skilled nursing; The Garden, a secure memory care neighborhood on the top floor of the Health Center; and The Willows, an intimate setting for palliative, services. Pine Run Lakeview is a personal care residence owned and operated by Pine Run Retirement Community and located on Lower State Road in Doylestown. Generations of families have turned to Pine Run for the certainty of comforts and services in the bonus years. Call 800.992.8992 to learn more about independent living, personal care, or skilled nursing and rehabilitation programs, or visit www.pinerun.org.
About ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health: Doylestown Health is beginning a bold new chapter as we approach our second century of healthcare delivery. To honor our centennial, Doylestown Health launched an ambitious comprehensive campaign, ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health, to elevate the patient experience to new heights and unlock our full potential to deliver exceptional care.
Philanthropic support of ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health will fund transformational renovation and expansion across the Doylestown Hospital and Pine Run campuses and will help chart the course for the next generation of patients, providers, and technology. For more information, visit the Doylestown Health Foundation website or call 215-345-2009.