DES PLAINES – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named World War II Navy Veteran John Manasse of Arlington Heights the November 2010 Veteran of the Month at a ceremony at the Silver Stallion Restaurant in Des Plaines.
The Illinois Veteran of the Month award is a distinction that is given to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. IDVA Director Dan Grant presented the award to Manasse, 86, a retired telecommunications professional.
Manasse served in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942 to 1945 and was awarded the Good Conduct Ribbon, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific American Theatre Campaign Medal and Submarine Combat Insignia, among other honors. He is an active member of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II and the American Legion.
Manasse created the “Hug-A-Bears” project which provides teddy bears to uniformed personnel such as hospital workers, firefighters and police officers to distribute to children who are in their care. Since 1989, Manasse and his wife, Virginia, have distributed more than 13,000 bears throughout the Chicago area. Manasse thought of the idea for “Hug-A-Bears” after attending a Chicago Fire Department “fire prevention week” event and speaking to paramedics about the number of children—often frightened—that they see each day. The bears, Manasse said, would act as a barrier breaker between uniformed personnel and frightened children, and provide comfort for the children.
“Mr. Manasse served his country bravely and honorably during World War II and has continued to serve his community honorably through his ‘Hug-A-Bears’ program,” said IDVA Director Dan Grant. “It is an even greater privilege to honor someone whose heart lies with serving children. Mr. Manasse is an asset to all veterans, and to all he has served in Cook County.”
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at veterans.illinois.gov to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.