Historic Anniversary Commemorated Quietly

March 28, 2020 was to be a day to remember in the annals of BVA’s history, just as it was 75 years before—to the very day. It will still be a day to remember, just not the way it was originally intended to be remembered. 

On March 28, 1945, at 8:45 a.m., approximately 100 young men who had recently lost their sight in World War II combat gathered for a meeting at the Department of Defense’s Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital in Connecticut. Most of the men had been recovering from not one but multiple injuries. The result of the meeting was a decision to create the Blinded Veterans Association, an organization that would focus exclusively on assisting blinded veterans and their families adjust to a new type of life. 

The second annual BVA “Light Up the Darkness” concert, scheduled for March 28 of this year in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, would have recognized and celebrated that fruitful 1945 effort with some amazing music, food, and socializing. Tributes were also planned for several of the most dedicated founders and pioneers of the organization, who were also characterized by their determination for a full and productive life for themselves, their families, and their fellow blinded veterans. 

Unfortunately, BVA was forced to cancel the historic concert just as COVID-19 restrictions were put in place throughout the country. 

The tributes, however, will go on throughout 2020. 

One of the legends of BVA’s early years, referred to above, is Indiana native Thomas C. Hasbrook, who served as BVA’s third national president beginning with his election in 1948. Motivated to believe he could do anything he set his mind to do despite his blindness, Tom went on to a distinguished career at Eli Lilly Corporation while serving in the Indiana State Legislature for eight years and for 15 years on the Indianapolis City-County Council. 

Tom demonstrated the same dedication to BVA as he did in all his other pursuits. In the summer of 1946, just two years after his accident, he organized the Indiana Regional Group and served as its first president. During that same summer he traveled throughout Indiana at his own expense to personally visit every blinded veteran in the state. 

“In all his activities, especially as a legislator, Dad was always promoting BVA and other organizations that helped the blind,” said Dan Hasbrook, Tom’s son. “He was always acutely aware of what issues were important to the blind and visually impaired, and he was a loyal advocate.”

A more complete biographical sketch of Tom Hasbrook’s life and contributions to BVA will be featured in the upcoming May-June issue of the BVA Bulletin.

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