Blog Article

Leonard: Taking His Mid-Michigan Honor Flight.

Here in America, we have real-life heroes. They walk among us, live next door, some are even in our families. We honor them on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and at other celebrations. These heroes are our veterans, men and women who’ve braved hardships we can never know, honor-bound to protect the country we love so dearly. And so it is that we give back, what we can, when we can. Being in their presence, we offer a reflexive, “Thank you for your service,” and listen breathless to any story we’re fortunate enough to hear. It is our joy to be able to swap a couple bucks for a poppy at the traffic light…and display it with pride.

For a veteran, one of the greatest tributes to their service is to fly in an honor flight. That privilege was bestowed on American House Charlevoix resident, Leonard Staley. Leonard, along with veterans from each branch of the military, was invited to be part of the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight on June 7, 2022.

The importance of this flight cannot be understated. Outfitted in Honor Flight gear and their personal military caps, the veterans along with loved ones and guardians, gather in Michigan and are flown to Washington, D.C. There they are given special clearance to access the majestic war memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifices. It’s a day of remembrance, reconciliation and honor. For many veterans, this may be a first-time visit and is undoubtedly one of the most meaningful trips of their lives. Most importantly, it is another wonderful opportunity to say thank you to our veterans.

Marine Corporal Leonard Staley will never forget the significance of being on the flight. “It was certainly an honor to be alive and able to go on this trip,” says Leonard. His fellow American House Charlevoix residents gathered for a warm send-off, complete with flag waving, heartfelt handmade banners and accolades from the local fire and police departments. After podium speeches and a hero’s parade at Ferris State University, the flight took off for Washington, D.C. where a full day of touring and ceremony awaited. From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the Vietnam War Memorial, Leonard soaked in the reverence of the day, accompanied by his daughter’s fiancé, Mark, and American House Regional Director, Jacqueline Sarcona.

Having served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, Leonard was understandably moved at the memorial dedicated to his service, the Korean War Memorial. As Jacqueline recalls, “The entire trip was a tearjerker, but that return flight home was completely unreal!” It was 11:30 p.m., the veterans tired, but still charged up from the day. As the procession of veterans and their guardians flowed into the airport, they were greeted with a true hero’s welcome; hundreds of people, shedding tears, cheering and holding signs. From Boy Scout troops to police—even kilt-clad firefighters playing bag pipes—they were all there to welcome home these brave men and women. The motto of the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, “It’s never too late to thank a veteran,” was on full display. What a satisfying end to an emotional and rewarding day.

With Leonard’s service honored by this momentous flight, his life story gains a rich new chapter. He’s enjoying sharing memories of his journey with family and friends. And when any of his 10 grandchildren tour the Korean War Memorial, as they are likely to do, they can offer up their own, “Thank you for your service” in honor of their grandfather.

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.

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American House Senior Living

American House Senior Living has been helping residents add to their life stories since 1979. Start your next chapter where new experiences happen daily, and new friends are ready to be made.

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