BARNEGAT, NJ – Fred McManus and Arlene Geiger had different plans for this April. They’ve known each other for fifty years and have enjoyed a romantic relationship for almost eight. Their wedding date was set for last week. Instead of celebrating their marriage, the two are marking their appreciation for some warriors. Their home is all lit up in special honor for those fighting the coronavirus battle.

For Fred, it’s personal in many respects. Years ago, Fred won a war of his own. The poliovirus struck decades ago. Although Fred contracted it, he counts as one of the survivors.  Some died from polio or suffered long term paralysis. Fred recovered after minor complications.  No doubt, he fully understands the importance of finding a cure for COVID-19, as well as a vaccination.

After living on the water in Waretown, Fred and Arlene moved into Pheasant Run in Barnegat. Their well-coiffed property always stands out. However, newly added ornamentations have special meaning.

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“I wrapped the trees in blue lights,” shared Fred. “I added white lights at the top to show that we are coming out of the tunnel.”

Two soldiers also adorn Fred and Arlene’s front lawn. They represent everyone from first responders to frontline personnel. The couple know plenty of them,

“My nephew, Lenny Abline retired as a major in the New Jersey State Police,” Fred proudly explained. “My other nephew Michael Abline also retired from the state police.”

However, it was the tears of another family member that really hit Lenny’s heart. His niece, Donna Albine, is a nurse in Morristown. For years, she’s been in charge of several dialysis clinics up north.

“She’s now in the middle of all this,” said Fred. “And, I can hear in her voice that’s she’s scared.”

Meanwhile, Fred also thinks about other people working in the medical field. His neighbor, Mary Ann, runs the switchboard at Southern Ocean County Hospital. In a sense, she provides yet another service. After all, she keeps families in touch with loved ones. Each and every day, the hospital takes Mary Ann’s temperature as a precautionary measure.

The sign on the Barnegat couples lit up home bears a collective measure of thanks. As far as Lenny’s concerned, he has a hope when things get back to normal.

“I want neighbors to salute all of these warriors when this is all over,” Fred shared. “They deserve respect and gratitude for putting themselves at risk.”