Grand Rapids, Mich. — The Military Welcome Center presented by SpartanNash at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) now has a special area, dedicated to the men and women who never made it home.Rolling Thunder Michigan Chapter Four donated the POW-MIA Chair of Honor at a ceremony today at the airport. Members of Rolling Thunder, SpartanNash, and GFIA board members and staff joined in the dedication.
The Chair of Honor is to remain perpetually empty to help people remember that even though the military members are not here, there is always a space for them. POW-MIA Chairs of Honor can be found in public spaces ranging from professional sports stadiums to city halls, and now – the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Military Welcome Center presented by SpartanNash.
“The Rolling Thunder Chair of Honor program is intended to support our mission that ‘No Veteran shall be left behind or forgotten’ should they become a Prisoner Of War or Missing In Action,” said Mike Holmes, President of Rolling Thunder Michigan, Chapter Four.
National POW-MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September as a tribute to U.S. military members who were prisoners of war, those who are still missing in action, and their families.
“SpartanNash’s vision is to be a best-in-class business that feels local, where relationships matter, and, as a Military Friendly® Employer, one of our most important relationships is with our servicemembers, veterans and their families,” said Meredith Gremel, SpartanNash vice president of corporate affairs and communications. “We are honored to include this POW-MIA Chair of Honor in the Military Welcome Center as a solemn reminder of those who are not here with us.”
The Military Welcome Center, presented by SpartanNash, was officially opened to servicemembers, veterans, and their families in November 2017. The center offers refreshments, snacks, charging stations, an airport arrival/departure monitors, and lounging spaces. Additionally, there is an interactive map where military personnel and veterans can pinpoint where they have been stationed or deployed, and veteran profiles and programming offered by WGVU and PBS.
“We are proud to have a space in our airport dedicated to those that sacrificed so much for our country and our freedoms,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “We appreciate the partnership with SpartanNash in providing this space for our military, veterans, and their families; and we are honored that Rolling Thunder Michigan Chapter Four chose the airport to dedicate the POW-MIA Chair of Honor.”
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) is the second busiest airport in Michigan. The Airport served over 3.26 million passengers in 2018 and over 8,000 travelers pass through GFIA each day. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport offers nonstop service to 32 major market destinations with more than 140 daily nonstop flights. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. GFIA generates over $3.1 billion in annual economic output throughout West Michigan, and employs over 2,000 people.