02 July 2021

The poem “The American Spirit” by Hank Jaeckal, a 93-year-old resident at Brookdale Tamarac Square, was selected as the grand champion in Brookdale’s Second Annual National Poetry Challenge. More than 103 poems from Brookdale communities across the country were entered in the contest.

He competed in last year’s competition and enjoys writing poetry, he writes poetry and short stories as a hobby. Friends and family often receive his poems in birthday cards.

The poetry contest was launched in 2020 to celebrate and acknowledge the creative expressions and talents of Brookdale residents across the country. For 2021, the Company decided on the theme, The American Spirit, and encouraged writers to reflect on what it means to be an American in their poetry. The poets could capture thoughts on the spirit of America, what America is and where it has been and/or where it is going.

Poems were reviewed by members of Brookdale’s resident engagement team, then submitted for final judging to company leaders.

“Poetry is a powerful expression of language and feelings,” said Charles Richardson, senior director of resident programs. “We wanted to focus our residents’ creative thoughts on a theme this year. We know they’ve seen and felt so much, and we’re honored to be able to read their thoughts on what America is, has been and what it could be.”



The American Spirit

America is an experiment.

Our founding fathers knew that.

We continue to make changes for the better,

But sometimes we do fall flat.


Too many are in poverty.

Too many are killed by guns.

Too many breathe polluted air.

Some throw trash where water runs.


Still we can be thankful,

We don’t have cruel dictators.

But, we do have pretty birds and bees,

Who serve as pollinators.


We can vote for our leaders

Of country, state, and nation.

We need to do that wisely –

It’s our moral obligation.


It’s pretty easy to be discouraged,

Due to issues like pollution,

Or climate change and corruption,

But hard work can find the solution.


Just think of all of America’s pluses.

There are schools where we can learn.

There are hospitals to care for the sick,

And there are jobs for money we can earn.


There are parks all filled with nature’s beauty.

And roads to take us there.

The potential certainly is here.

Look around – it’s everywhere.


So America IS beautiful

With clouds and spacious skies.

America is where I want to be.

It’s where the future lies.

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