Sanford Hospice House in Fargo prides itself on providing comfort and calm to patients and families during a loved one’s final days. But for military veterans, an extra special ceremony is offered.
“It’s very near and dear to us because it’s really a way for us to recognize the service that people have provided to our country at a time in their life where they’re in their final journey,” said Tamie Anderson, a registered nurse at Sanford Hospice House Fargo.
Pinning a 20-year Navy veteran
One recent veteran honored with a pinning ceremony was Jim Haukedahl of Fargo. Jim served in the Navy, then joined the Navy Reserve, serving more than 20 years total.
His family, including his wife Linda, joined Jim in his room, along with some of his military friends during the ceremony.
“He was totally aware of what was going on,” said Linda Haukedahl. “When he heard that they would like to do it, he was very humbly accepting of it. He was happy about it. I didn’t know at the time if he would appreciate everything that was going on, but he totally did. … He was smiling the entire time he was talking and he was so proud to share it with everyone.”
A national program called We Honor Veterans organizes the pinning ceremonies, but local nurses like Anderson add extra meaning to the event.
“I’m fortunate because I’m a veteran myself,” Anderson said. “So I’m able to salute the veteran and I’ll tell you, there’s never a dry eye in the room when that happens. It’s very emotional and very important, and to us and to them, it means a lot.”
A ceremony of his own
Jim Haukedahl wasn’t content just receiving his honor though. He was a giver as well.
“One of Jim’s passions is: we belong to Hope Lutheran Church, and they have a prayer cross ministry where people in the church make prayer crosses that fit right into your hand. He had given those to people, probably 100 or 200, and it was very important to him. He made sure that I asked one of the pastors to have plenty of crosses in his room. And at the end, he passed out crosses to everybody who was there. It was very touching.”
“He gave all of our staff that was at the pinning one of the crosses. They also left several for us to give to our other patients, which to this day we do,” Anderson said. “We did have a patient come to our hospice unit from out in the community. And when he arrived here, he had one of these crosses. This was after Jim died and we thought, you know, to this day, Jim’s service is still ministering to people.”
On March 6, a few days after his pinning ceremony, Jim Haukedahl died at the age of 71. He lived his life in service to others, as a veteran, a Christian, and a volunteer. Sanford Hospice House and its staff were honored to care for him at the end of his life, and to recognize his service as well.
“I can’t say it was a pleasant time, but it was a very comforting time knowing that Jim, as far as I’m concerned … had the best care he could possibly have had.”
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