Leonard and Charles: Brothers…and brothers-in-arms.
Their parents emigrated from Poland to start a new life, a life of freedom in America. Leonard and Charles would grow to honor their courage and protect those freedoms by enlisting during World War II. Charles served in the US Army from 1942 to 1945, while Leonard was a Navy man from 1943 to 1946.
For many people, the Fourth of July holiday inspires thoughts of the brave men and women who fought for our country and for freedom. Leonard and Charles consider this a time to reflect on the significance of Independence Day. Leonard thinks about the challenges his parents faced coming to America in search of a better life. For Charles, the Fourth of July is a reminder of the reality of war, those who didn’t return and the many who fought bravely.
“To me, the Fourth of July represents everything we fought for and have been fighting for since the 1700s…independence,” says Charles. Years ago, Charles was honored to join fellow veterans for a parade in Dryden, Michigan. He was the oldest vet in the parade and rode inside the vehicle. It was a day he’ll never forget.
Along with their service to their country, Charles was a tool and die man for 42 years, and Leonard spent 38 years with the US Postal Service. Like many people on the Fourth of July, they’ll celebrate with friends and family, waving flags, enjoying the outdoors. And like many veterans, they’ll look at those stars-and-stripes a little differently than the rest of us. For Charles, it means a simple act of recognition. “You should honor the flag, put your hand on your heart and give a little bow for all those who fight for our freedom.” Leonard suggests taking time to consider what the holiday really means. “People should be grateful for the freedom and many opportunities we have to enjoy in this great country.”
Last May at American House Sterling Woods, Leonard turned 96 while Charles celebrated his centennial birthday. At 100 years old, Charles builds wood models and plays brain games on his tablet. He also likes to challenge his brother to race him down the hallways at American House. While Leonard enjoys his big brother’s enthusiasm, he would rather spend his time singing songs to his lovely wife, Irene.
In any story of patriotism, there are heroes. In Leonard and Charles’s story, patriotism is something they grew up with, something they held onto during the war and beyond. And on Independence Day, if you’re going to acknowledge the freedoms of our country, take the advice of our 100-year-old veteran who races in the halls where he lives: “When you see a flag waving, put your hand on your heart and give a little bow.”
We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.