A Triumphant Return

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Those who know Cornelius (Neal) Twomey have become quite familiar with his infectious smile. “I say hello to everyone,” he said. “I was well known in my company because I could talk to anybody.”

Perhaps a less obvious detail about Neal, however, is his patriotism. With the help of his family and the staff at Morningside House, an assisted living community located in Hanover, he played an instrumental role in arranging a Flag Day ceremony for his fellow veterans and peers. Neal had spent many years placing flags on the graves of veterans each Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, and felt strongly about honoring the flag with his fellow World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans.

Neal was drafted at 21 years of age following the attack on Pearl Harbor. “We took a test through which I qualified to be in the Army Air Corps,” he said. “I went to radio school and trained to become an Aircraft radio instructor.”

After serving for nearly four years, he was discharged when the war ended. Like many returning GI’s, he was wait-listed to return to college and found a job within the new catalogue industry at Montgomery Ward where he met his wife, Madge. He then took on a supervising position for 31 years with Continental Oil.

Over the years, Neal and his wife’s family grew from their two children to four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they moved into Morningside in a special care section called Stepping Stones.

There, the staff took care of all of her needs including medication management, bathing and dressing. When his wife passed away last November, however, Neal decided to move into his daughter’s home.

“My daughter works, so I was sitting in an empty home with nothing to do,” he said. “I knew the people at Morningside and the things I could be doing so I thought I should go back.”

After a brief hiatus, he returned to the place where he could live independently and take part in various activities while enjoying a maintenance free lifestyle. With amenities such as weekly housekeeping and laundry services, scheduled transportation, three daily restaurant-style meals and a 24-hour emergency call system, Neal knew he would have a relaxing and secure future ahead of him.

While he has continued to stay active in the American Legion, Neal has had no problem immersing himself into the social life at Morningside. As part of the community’s Men’s Club, he has enjoyed bowling, listening to guest speakers, partaking in group discussions and venturing off campus for lunch with his peers. He has even found new interests in art classes and Yoga classes each month.

There was one thing he had yet to accomplish though; this time around, he was determined to initiate a Flag Day ceremony at the community.

After he told his daughter about his plan, she bought recordings of the appropriate music for the ceremony. “I went to the staff with the idea, and they thought it would be great, so we put it on,” said Neal.

Flag Day last year marked the first annual ceremony at Morningside during which the American Flag, donated from the Glen Burnie American Legion Post 40, was raised and saluted as veterans, staff and other residents sang and recited with the patriotic recordings.

It was among his proudest moments at the community, along with the recent visit from a group of men stationed at Ft. Meade. “Everyone enjoyed it because we were comparing stories of then and now. They even asked if they could come back,” he said.

And Neal certainly plans on extending the same welcome to these men as he had received when he returned to Morningside. With a supportive staff, as well as a fun and comfortable environment, he has nothing left to do but smile.

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