Cleveland's Clarence "Cid" Heidel had a lot to be thankul for during the recent Thanksgiving season, especially a new lease on life.Heidel, co-chairman of the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home …
Cleveland's Clarence "Cid" Heidel had a lot to be thankul for during the recent Thanksgiving season, especially a new lease on life.
Heidel, co-chairman of the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council, along with newly elected state Rep. Mark Hall, agreed recently to a short interview, although it was just a few days after enduring quadruple heart bypass surgery.
Visibly emotional and tiring easily, he said, "I'm thankful the Good Lord gave me another chance at life, and I'll try to make the most of it."
He was attending a Bradley County Commission meeting on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, when he experienced shortness of breath and chest pain.
Good friend Kim Dees convinced him he was having a heart attack, which resulted in a rush to Memorial Hospital's Cardiac Care Unit in Chattanooga, and, two days later, four bypasses.
"I'd experienced a near heart attack in 2006," Heidel said in acknowledging a previous health scare.
The former adjutant for the American Legion Post 81, added he is thankful for the many prayers he received during this life-threatening incident, and the opportunity he has been given to continue to work for others, especially the veterans in the community.
"I'm also thankful for my beautiful wife, Paulette," he added of his companion who was standing by during his ordeal, and kept family and friends informed of the situation.
While he was recovering in intensive care, Heidel was recognized with 2018's Raymond H. Miller Patriotic Award, during the annual Bradley County Veterans Day ceremony.
This honor was determined by the time and effort he has spent over more than a decade on veteran projects, and needs in the community, especially the completion of acquisition of necessary funding for a state veterans home for Cleveland and Bradley County.
"I am honored and humbled by the award," said Heidel, but was quick to emphasize that the effort and credit are not his alone.
"We had a great team," he said of all the people who have worked on the veterans home project since 2006, and before.
He said this includes politicians in Washington, D.C., all the way down to young children in the community who saved, and donated to the project.
"To be honest, President Trump had a hand (in achieving this dream)," he added. "When his proposed budget was approved, with an increase of $700 million for the Veterans Administration, they had enough to cover funding ($26 million) for our veterans home."
This federal funding was the final step in securing $46 million for Tennessee's fifth veterans facility, to be located here in Cleveland, on Westland Drive.
Local funding, from the city and county, along with an anonymous $3 million donation, donation of a construction site, and state approval, were already in place.
The veterans home had also received support, and additional funding, from Gov. Bill Haslam in his budget.
Heidel said he and Paulette are thankful for living in a service-focused community like Cleveland, and for the people who reside here. "We are also fortunate to live in a nation where we have the freedom to chose, a country which was established unlike any other in human history."
He emphasized his family has a Thanksgiving tradition each year, where they read a special document prominent just after America's founding. This document is the 1789 proclamation by President George Washington, through which he establishes Thanksgiving Day.
"Basically, it is a petition to the Almighty regarding the creation of this great nation," Heidel said, and he recommends it to everyone.
He also gave a tip of the cap to all veterans who have served in our nation's wars (siignificant on this Pearl Harbor Day anniversary). "They have stepped forward and put their lives on the line for our freedoms," he added.
Heidel had four uncles in World War II, one who was in the water at Midway, and another at the Battle of the Bulge. All returned home, but had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
"My service time was not that great, but I was proud to serve," he added.
He emphasized his involvement on the Veterans Home Council, and other community projects projects, is not for recognition, but to join others who want the best for our veterans, and our community. "I's all a community effort," he stressed.
"With the veterans Home, we all worked together to get our marbles together," he coninued.
He gave an example of why the veterans home project is so important.
"We had a retired master sergeant on our team, and he attended all our meetings, and contributed. He was the type of person we want to be able to live in this new facility, to be constructed here, and be provided the care he deserved for his time of service to our great nation," he added.
"Sadly, he passed away recently, while I was in the hospital," Heidel said.
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