Why we’re drawn to Billie Holiday’s story
Veteran who recovered from COVID-19 lifts spirits through song
HOLYOKE, Mass. — When Korean War veteran Ed Sheehan recovered from COVID-19 and came out of quarantine, he wanted to lift the spirits of fellow residents from Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the site of one of the deadliest outbreaks of the virus in the nation.
So the 90-year-old sang “God Bless America” for other residents of the veterans home, who are being treated at nearby Holyoke Medical Center, and for health care providers.
“My papa’s been a singer his entire life, he’s always singing,” said Sheehan’s grandson, Drew Christensen, told WGBY’s “Connecting Point.” “Somewhere along the line, we started singing ‘God Bless America’ quite a bit at family functions.”
Sheehan served in the Army during the Korean War. After his wife died in November, he moved to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Sheehan had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but was asymptomatic.
“That outcome is not the same for everybody,” Christensen said. “We’ve had other situations in the family where it did not work out that way. It’s great to have positivity and see him singing.”
According to state figures, more than 70 veterans at the facility who tested positive for COVID-19 have died since March. Questions remain on how the virus spread at that location, and how dozens of residents and employees contracted the virus. The National Guard has been called in to support staff, and state officials announced that the long-term facility will receive $2 million dollars to make improvements to the veterans home.
This report originally appeared on WGBY’s “Connecting Point.”
New England Public Media. PBS. NPR. Local Perspective.