This Veterans Day, A Story About Why I Do What I Do
This Veterans Day, giving thanks to the brave men and women who fought to protect our freedom and defend the honour of our country is more important than ever. I’d like to introduce you to Col. Julius Blatt, Ret., one of the most influential men in my life who played an integral role in the shaping of my higher purpose in this world: to serve the needs of seniors.
Col. Julius Blatt served in the United States Army and was assigned to the Engineer Combat Group as Plans and Intelligence Officer. In December of 1943, Col. Blatt was assigned to the European Theatre for 29 months of duty.
For the first period, he engaged in Pre-Invasion plans and intelligence for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding meritorious service. He then served 11 months in combat, during which he led an advance party of 12 brave men behind enemy lines into Nuremberg and Munich. The men accomplished their mission: obtaining National Socialist Party secret documents. For this service, Col. Blatt was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Col. Blatt went into Normandy months prior to the invasion to reconnaissance the planned landing points. He had the highest level of security at that time. For what we call D-Day today, the pre-invasion name was code named “Bigot”. He was Patton’s G2 Intelligence officer. He later worked on ‘The Last Days of Patton’ as the Military advisor to Patton for the film. He was the first American soldier in Paris as Liaison Officer with Charles de Gaulle and his troops.
He was one of the first to discover Dachau and shot the senior officer he was interrogating there when the officer spat in his face, refusing to answer a question posed by a Jew. His name, of course, and his Yiddish German had given his religion away.
Col. Blatt commanded 60,000 Prisoners of War from 1945 to 1947, leading efforts to rebuild roads and bridges throughout Europe. He received the Legion D’honeur avec Palm and the Croix De Guerre from France, awarded to him by President Mitterand on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Paris.
Col. Blatt was an engineer, a scientist, and a man with astonishing brilliance. He was a true American Hero, born and bred, raised in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, growing up during the Prohibition period and befriending many who were part of what is known as the Murder Incorporated – gangs of New York, who populated the city’s boroughs.
Like many Veterans, he was not open to receiving help in his later years, even refusing to answer the door for services like Meals on Wheels. When he passed on in London, we called the American Embassy to honour his wishes. They arrived within 10 minutes. The experience was humbling to witness; it’s incredible to see how the American Military truly looks after its own. Col. Blatt’s military brothers flew him to D.C. and gave him full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, as he well deserved.
After his passing, we discovered top-secret documents, and again within no time, the CIA was at the door to classify the documents, which happened to be related to Operation Bigot. While the documents were declassified later that day, it was an experience burned into my memory that I’ll never forget. After a certain time, documents are automatically declassified, and as this event occurred more than 45 years ago, their top-secret nature had passed.
We continued to discover bits and pieces of Col. Blatt’s incredible life long after he left this world. He had actually served in the military up until 1977, a fact no one in his family was aware of. He had liberated death camps and gone on journeys unfathomable to most of us today.
I’m proud to say that our family is still in touch with the amazing man who came to the door that day to honour the final wishes of Col. Blatt, a man I’m honoured to call my Poppa.
This story may be personal to me, but it’s just one of many incredible recounts of amazing lives led by the brave men and women who have selflessly served our country and fought for the freedom we enjoy today. Many residents in senior living homes today are Veterans or widows of Veterans. Many members of the Baby Boomer generation who will soon be entering senior living in the coming years served in the Vietnam or Korean Wars. Let’s look after the people who have fought for our country and taken care of us all our lives.
These men and women put their lives on the line for our freedom. They dedicated years and years of service, left their families and young children with the knowledge that they may never set foot on American soil again alive, to fight on our behalf. Don’t we owe it to them to make their final years as incredible and enriching as the rest of their lives have been?
I do what I do for Col. Blatt and the thousands of brave men and women like him. We owe our Veterans an amazing senior living experience, and I’ve made it my goal to impact the senior living industry with a philosophy that places residents at the forefront – where they should be.
Will you join me in thanking our Veterans today?
Shared by a proud Grandson — with Col. Julius Blatt.