WWII Veteran’s Wish Comes True: Making the World A Better Place, One Wish at a Time
Guest Blog by Mary E. Farrell of the Twilight Wish Foundation
Against the backdrop of a beautiful, blue fall sky, World War II veteran Gus Siciliano took hold of the rope handed to him and carefully raised Old Glory and the black POW-MIA flags outside his Vineland, NJ home. It was clear to all present that he was overcome with emotion as his poignant wish came true. Siciliano is very proud of his years in the military as a tail-gunner in a B-17, including one year spent as a prisoner in a Nazi prison camp during the war. Although he is 92 and in hospice care for mesothelioma, he still lives in his home with Helen, his wife of 60 years, and until recently, flew both the U.S. and POW/MIA flags from a flagpole in his front yard. That is, until a recent severe storm destroyed both the flagpole and the flags. Because he and his wife live on a fixed income, they were not able to replace the flagpole on their own.
Knowing how important the flags were to Siciliano, his hospice social worker, Faridah Jones, submitted a wish application on his behalf to Twilight Wish Foundation, requesting assistance with this special wish. Twilight Wish is a national nonprofit that works hard to make the dreams and wishes of low-income senior citizens come true. About to celebrate our 10th anniversary in July of 2013, we have granted over 1,763 wishes to deserving seniors who cannot make their own wishes come true. Twilight Wish put the word out about Siciliano’s wish and a local service organization, Bucks County Service Industry Charities, responded. They raised the money and installed the base for the new flagpole, donating the material, new flags, and their time.
Around the same time, Twilight Wish’s Jan Stumpf was having work done in her home and mentioned the wish to her contractor, Richard Resh, who in his spare time is an active member of the troops support group Warriors’ Watch. Resh was touched by Siciliano’s story and offered to have members from Warriors’ Watch join in the wish granting. So, on Saturday, November 17, 2012, over 50 riders from Warriors’ Watch arrived at Sicliano’s house to recognize and thank him for his military service. Several of them lifted the flagpole into the concrete base while the others saluted Siciliano.
“Gus, you’re going to raise your own flags, sir,” said Resh.
Siciliano took hold of the rope and began to raise the flags, saying “this is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had.” As the bikers rode off, Siciliano saluted his new flags one more time.
Twilight Wish Foundation is a national nonprofit whose mission is to honor and enrich the lives of deserving seniors through wish granting celebrations that connect generations. Our vision is to make the world a nicer place to age, one wish at a time. Founded in 2003, Twilight Wish has granted over 1,763 wishes to deserving seniors throughout the U.S. Twilight Wish grants wishes to seniors who are 68 and older and have an income of less than 200% of poverty level or who are a permanent resident of a nursing facility. To donate, volunteer or request a wish, visit the website at www.twilightwish.org.
Photos Courtesy of: Steve Brown of Looking Glass Photography, Perkasie, PA.
About the Author:
Mary E. Farrell
Twilight Wish Foundation
Director of Community Relations
(215) 230-8777 ext. 103