GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, Hospice of Michigan is determined to honor hero veterans as they near the end of their lives.

On Friday morning, friends and family gathered remotely and in person at a safe social distance to celebrate the life and service of 98-year-old Aldean Mason, a U.S. Army nurse who treated wounded soldiers and Holocaust survivors in Europe.

A courtesy image shows Aldean Mason with other U.S. Army nurses during World War II.

The Grand Rapids native has lived at Azpira Place for nearly eight years. She is currently in hospice care, necessitating the special ceremony. 

“We’re just so grateful for Aldean, what she represents, we love and recognize that she has so much pride for her service and we want to help her celebrate that,” Mike Nitz, Azpira Place director of community relations, said. “Celebrating Memorial Day and all her accomplishments, we wanted to do something very special for her and her family. To make sure she knows she’s appreciated for her services.”

Her family lives on the West Coast, but joined the ceremony via Zoom.

Aldean Mason’s family watched via Zoom as the World War II veteran was honored at Hospice of Michigan at Azpira Place of Breton on May 29, 2020.

“If anything positive can come from this time of pandemic amid COVID-19 … it’s that we can enjoy our families a little more,” Nitz said. “I don’t think this event would’ve been possible a few months ago, not before we all knew how easy it would be to bring people, families together from such large distances.”

Mason was resented with a certificate and commemorative pin celebrating her life of service. After the ceremony, she was taken on a parade throughout the facility where fellow residents smiled and waved to her, enjoying patriotic music and cupcakes. 

World War II veteran Aldean Mason received this commemorative pin from Hospice of Michigan at Azpira Place of Breton. (May 29, 2020)