MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Throughout our country’s history there are endless examples of people looking out for each other during difficult times.

Another example happened today at Meadow Ridge Senior Living in Golden Valley where people stood outside and entertained residents inside.

Passing by this unique group of social distance serenaders, you can’t help but smile. There’s the Easter bunny, a walking slice of pizza, and others singing “mostly” in tune. But make no mistake they have a message to send.

“To be here today in a time of crisis is really something special,” said Eli Jaffa, Moments Hospice.

It started when a news story caught the attention of Air Force veteran Steve Solmonson.

“I saw the story of the memorial rifle squad being shut down from doing funerals and it broke my heart,” Solmonson said.

For 41 consecutive years the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad performed through all kinds of difficult elements. But it was COVID-19 that ended that streak.

“Was the toughest call I’ve had to make as commander of the Memorial Rifle Squad,” Fort Snelling Rifle Squad commander, Mike Pluta said.

Instead of standing down, the rifle squad joined forces with Steve to pay it forward. 125 acts of kindness in honor of the 125 members of the squad. Armed with Easter baskets, gift cards and Papa Murphy’s pizza, they chose this senior care facility for a reason.

There are 25 veterans living at Meadow Ridge. Men and women who have always looked out for our country. Now groups like these are looking out for them.

60 caregivers also work there on the front lines of a different kind of battle. From Patriotic songs to Elvis and the Beatles, people stood at their windows to see. Some of them in hospice care, but making every effort to listen. Smiles, songs, and a promise of better days ahead.

“I can’t think of a better place to pay it forward,” Pluta said.

The rifle squad and Moments Hospice are also hoping to give back to police officers and hospitals as part of their “pay it forward” plans.

John Lauritsen

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