A Minnesota neighborhood has been giving back to their beloved local World War II veteran by assisting him on his twice daily walks. 95-year-old Harvey Djerf enjoys the walks and they keep him young, but his neighbors have noticed that Djerf wasn’t giving himself enough rest breaks on these walks.
Initially, Djerf noticed that one neighbor had left a chair on their lawn for their neighbor to take a welcome break. However, the kind gesture was later noticed by others.
He said of the gesture,”It’s kind of snowballed now. I’m up to 12 chairs now. They must’ve seen that I was pausing and catching my breath and that’s when they probably took pity on me.” It was not pity that made his neighbors help him, it was sheer kindness and empathy, giving their elderly, veteran neighbor some help. The act of kindness then extended as his neighbors would bring him lemonade and cookies on hot summer days.
Djerf was a respected member of the European Theater of Operations with Battery D in the 126th Anti-Aircraft Gun Battalion. He was given the crucial role of shooting down German bombs. Throughout his 33 month service in the Army, Djerf was constantly traveling to countries including Belgium, England, France, Germany and Holland, before coming back to settle in the United States.
Djerf was not only a war vet, he was also one of the longest standing residence in the neighborhood and was highly respected by all those living nearby. He called Plymouth, Minnesota home for 66 years and their home was built by him and his wife of 69 years. The two lived together up until this year when his wife suffered a stroke and was forced to move into an assisted living facility nearby.
Two of his neighbors, Tom and Melanie Herman had known the veteran for over seven years and decided to take the initiative to help the man that brings so much joy to their neighborhood. Tom recalled “We were looking out there one day and noticed there’s no chairs on our entire street here, so we put one out for him, he found it the very next day.”
He continued,”I joked to Melanie: It’s kind of a status symbol in the neighborhood to have a chair out for Harvey, he’s a beloved character. I actually felt that it would be an honor if he sat in our yard.”
The neighborhood gestures to their resident veteran had not gone unnoticed and Djerf gave thanks, saying, “They know I’m alone so they give me companionship, I’m very well taken care of.”