Chicago Department of Aviation and Belmont Village Senior Living Honor U.S. Veterans with New Exhibit at O’Hare International Airport

‘American Heroes: Portraits of Service’ Second Installation Lands at ORD with Ribbon Cutting and Flag-Folding Commemoration Ceremony

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), in partnership with Belmont Village Senior Living and co-sponsor Harrison Street, announce the arrival of a new exhibition at O’Hare International Airport (ORD) titled “American Heroes: Portraits of Service” displayed in Terminal 3, Concourse I near gates 20-24. This thoughtfully curated photography exhibit is the second collaboration and showcases portraits of 55 distinguished senior veterans from who valiantly served their country during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, captured through the lens of renowned photographer Thomas Sanders. The first installation housed at Chicago’s Midway International Airport (MDW) was unveiled in November 2022.

A ceremony to introduce the exhibit at ORD, included a flag-folding ceremony led by distinguished veterans featured in the installation, as well as remarks from Chicago Airport Commissioner Jamie Rhee and Belmont Village Senior Living Founder and CEO Patricia Will, who recognized the contributions of veterans who are showcased in the exhibit.

“On behalf of Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago airport community, I am proud to partner with Belmont Village Senior Living ahead of Memorial Day to unveil this exhibit honoring the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to serve our country,” CDA Commissioner Jamie Rhee said. “Chicago’s airports are always looking for more ways to highlight the contributions of service members through efforts like these exhibits, regular Honor Flight Chicago trips to visit the national war memorials in Washington, D.C., and increased contracting opportunities for veteran-owned firms alongside other minority- and women-owned businesses.”

The American Heroes: Portraits of Service has been a long-standing photography project at Belmont Village to capture the stories and images of veterans in its communities to preserve their history.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport now offers travelers an opportunity to learn about the inspiring stories of distinguished veterans, like Myron Petrakis, a Navy machinist who served on the USS Murrelet during WWII. Petrakis, who was also showcased in the exhibit at MDW, requested that his colleague and friend, Richard Nelson, be featured in the exhibit at ORD. This tribute to the enduring bonds forged during wartime demonstrates the profound impact of service to our country.

“This project is a staple in Belmont Village’s culture, having portraits displayed in permanent galleries in our communities throughout the nation, and we’re proud to continue our efforts to showcase this project at O’Hare International Airport, after successfully exhibiting at Midway last year,” states Will.

Belmont Village Senior Living initiated the American Heroes: Portraits of Services photography project in 2008 with the objective of capturing and conserving the stirring personal accounts of veterans. Sanders since captured thousands of images of Belmont residents featured in over 30 permanent exhibits in Belmont communities across the country.

Co-sponsor, Harrison Street, has invested over $13 billion in senior living communities, including independent living, assisted living and memory care units across North America that have housed more than 60,000 seniors. The company is committed to supporting veterans and active military and have partnered with the U.S. Government and Department of Defense to provide over 4,000 homes to military families located across six U.S. Air Force bases.

“We are pleased to join our long-standing partner, Belmont Village, and the Chicago Department of Aviation to pay tribute to the selfless service members with this incredible tribute honoring those senior veterans at O’Hare International Airport,” says Christopher Merrill, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO of Harrison Street.”