Marilyn Benson stood up from where she was seated next to her father’s wheelchair and looked across the packed room. Most of the men and women in front of her are, like her father, patients at Berkshire Nursing and Rehab, a nursing home on Roosevelt Road in Forest Park. Many of them, too, are military veterans.

“I just would like to say thank you to all of them, because without them, there wouldn’t be America,” Benson said.

During a brief, but personalized Veterans Day ceremony, residents and staff alike paid tribute to one another for their service in the armed forces. Nineteen patients, a few of whom weren’t on hand, and three staff members at the nursing home received a certificate of thanks from members of American Legion Post 187 in Elmhurst. Post Commander Scott Clohan and 2nd Vice Dan Goeres walked the room to distribute each slip of paper and then stood to salute the frail bodies that had served so bravely so long ago.

For Benson’s father, Jerry Carson, long ago was World War II in Guadalcanal. He was a member of the Army and still chuckles over the photographs in which he wore his boots and a grass skirt.

“It means something,” Benson said of honoring her father and others. “Whenever I see veterans with their hats on, I say thank you.”

Veterans Day is recognized each year on Nov. 11 and Forest Park traditionally pays its respects with a roving service held by the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. Berkshire held its services on Monday, Nov. 10.

Director of Nursing Sabrina Washington read a poem to her patients as part of the facility’s service. Then she set her script on the podium and offered her gratitude.

“If it wasn’t for your bravery and your sacrifice, we wouldn’t have democracy today,” Washington said.

Berkshire’s resident veterans

Leonard Fisher, Air Force
James Abernathy, Navy
Anita Evans, Army
Raymond Schikora, Army
Frank Smith, Army
Ozell Emery, Army
LeRoy Manning , Army
Henry Kedrowski, Army
Willie Foster, Navy, Air Force
Willie Yates, Army
Donald Carney, Army
Marvin Handwerker, Army
Roy Isaac, Army
Raymond Johnson, Army
Rueben Rangel, Mexican Army
Alfonso Matthews, Air Force
Rocco Camasto, Navy
Joe Fears, Army