The VA New York Harbor Healthcare System recently had the privilege of administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to 100-year-old WWII Veteran Edmund “Eddie” Rosenblum (pictured above).
Arriving at the Manhattan Campus on a cold, gloomy Sunday afternoon, Rosenblum was accompanied by his son, daughter-in-law, nursing attendant, a wealth of stories and a sunny disposition.
As the vaccination center’s staff checked him in for his appointment, a VA nurse noticed his WWII Veteran hat and – being mindful of physical distancing – leaned in to give him an elbow-bump along with a “thank you for your service.”
Rosenblum replied with a crisp salute and a twinkle in his bright, blue eyes.
Service photo of Rosenblum during WWII.
While waiting for the pharmacy to deliver the vaccine, Rosenblum told us about growing up in Vienna, Austria, during the 1920’s and 30’s.
When Hitler came to power and banned Jews from attending higher education, he was forced to drop out of school. He was 14 and took up his father’s trade as a tailor.
His family hid until they could escape to the United States, where he arrived penniless at 19 years old.
Drafted after Pearl Harbor – valuable German interpreter
He was drafted into the Army three years later after Pearl Harbor. He served proudly till his honorable discharge in 1946. His duties varied throughout his time in service.
Troops he served with leaned on him as an interpreter due to his fluency in German while in the European Theater. He also used his tailoring skills to preserve uniforms and supplies.
He took part in the second landing at Omaha Beach after D-Day and eventually made his way to the Pacific Theater. His tailoring skills came in handy once again. He sewed a Filipino-American flag for the island’s provisional government after liberation from Japan. It earned him an Army Commendation Ribbon.
Rosenblum schedules his follow-up appointment on his phone.
While waiting for the vaccine to arrive, Edmund’s son, Dr. Harvey Rosenblum, showed everyone a picture book with Edmund’s awards, brochures and a citation from Adelphi University.
Awarded university certificate at 86
“My father has always been a lifelong believer in education. In 2006, at 86, he marched with the graduating class of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York,” Harvey said. “He was honored with a lifelong learner certificate. Hilary Rodham Clinton was the keynote speaker that year.”
Edmund showed everyone an autographed picture of the former First Lady.
His family helped him stand from his wheelchair and carefully remove his jacket as the nurse asked Harvey whether he has any allergies or if he’s had a vaccine in the last two weeks.
The nurse filled out his vaccination card and gave him instructions for his follow-up appointment as his family helped him put his jacket back on.
Always the lifelong learner, Edmund was adamant that he schedule his follow-up appointment in his iPhone calendar.
“We can’t thank you and the staff of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System enough for taking care of my father. He means the world to us and we are so proud of him,” Harvey said.
Michael A. Drake, MPA, is a public affairs officer for the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System.