Crowd gathers to welcome Lansing veterans

Despite delays, dozens remain until Myers and Krueger arrive

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (July 12, 2018) – “Who are all these people?” asked Tom Parsons as he pulled into the Sunrise Health Foods parking lot with 20 other Legion Riders. The Legion Riders had arrived to escort two Lansing veterans home after a day with Honor Flight Chicago, a service the Riders have been providing for several years.

Honor Flight
A crowd of Lansing residents was waiting in the parking lot of Sunrise Health Foods to welcome home Lansing veterans Don Krueger (pictured) and Harold Myers after their day with Honor Flight Chicago. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Usually the bikers are alone in the parking lot, along with representatives from Lansing Police and Fire Departments. But on this night, more than 35 random Lansing residents had decided to join the welcome as well. The original ETA was 9:30pm, so the crowd had been waiting for an hour or more, receiving occasional updates texted by Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich, who serves as an Honor Flight Chicago liaison. The temperature was comfortable, so most of the assembly didn’t mind spending the time in conversation, though some had to leave before the honorees finally arrived.

It was close to 11:00pm when Korean War veteran Don Krueger and his family pulled into the parking lot. They had the same question: “Who are all these people?” After a day of being honored and cared for and saluted and escorted, Krueger wasn’t expecting one more reception. The whole day had been overwhelming and wonderful for him.

He shook hands and chatted with the crowd while they waited for fellow veteran Harold Myers to arrive. The two live within blocks of each other in Lansing, but they didn’t really know one another before their day with Honor Flight.

Myers arrived several minutes later and received the same welcome. The two spent some time answering questions about their day’s experiences before participating in an impromptu balloon launch. Trelane Grayson, a new business owner in Lansing (The Party Chasers), had arrived on the scene with red, white, and blue balloons, which she distributed to the crowd, effectively turning the gathering into a party.

Honor Flight
Trelane Grayson, owner of The Party Chasers, brought red, white, and blue balloons to help welcome the veterans home. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

After another round of thanks, Myers and Krueger accepted a ride from Tony Perovich, who had arrived at the scene in his 1975 Oldsmobile 88 Royale convertible. Perovich chauffeured the veterans home, escorted by bikers, fire engines, and police, with lights and sirens blaring.

Honor Flight
From left: Tony Perovich, Don Krueger, and Harold Myers rode the final leg of the journey in style. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Honor Flight
Lansing police blocked traffic to allow the veterans and their entourage back onto Torrence Avenue, and the veterans were escorted home in a flurry of lights, sirens, and horns. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

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3 thoughts on “Crowd gathers to welcome Lansing veterans

  1. What a night! Welcoming home veterans is always such an honor! Thank you so much, Tre, for bringing out balloons. The tag you put on each balloon made them so special. Extremely thoughtful and kind of you! Thank you Maureen for everything you do for our veterans. Thank you Melanie for everything you are doing for our community. I have to tell you that since you have started the Lansing Journal, our community seems so much closer.

    • Patty, what a kind thing to say! It’s probably not fair for The Lansing Journal to take full credit for bringing the community together 🙂 , but I do think we play a part. Lansing is full of good people doing good things, and The Lansing Journal provides a place for those stories to be shared. The real beauty of Lansing is what happens after people read the words—they go out and build community with each other. It’s beautiful.

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