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Justus Belfield was too weak to leave his bed at an upstate New York nursing home this Veteran’s Day, but it didn’t matter: he had the staff dress him and take a picture of one more salute. Belfield was 98, and passed away the next day.

He had spent 16 years in the military, including a stint overseas (he fought in the Battle of the Bulge) and as a recruiter in Syracuse during the Korean War. He and his wife moved into a nursing home outside of Albany a few years ago, and a tradition began: each Veteran’s Day, he would put on the uniform, participate in the activities, and take a picture of the salute.

Last year, he told local media of his service: “It was a good thing to do. I loved it because it was my country. It’s still my country.”

Belfield left behind his wife, six children, 18 grand-children and 28 great grand-children.

The activities director at his nursing home, Barbara Bradt, said he had “such a spark for life,” adding “He taught me that no matter how old you are, you put a smile on your face and you just appreciate every day, because that’s what he did.”

Here’s an image of Belfield’s final salute:


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