“The history of free men is never really written by chance, but by choice – their choice,” said President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.  Although many years have passed since then, his words still ring true.

While Veterans Day is an occasion to honor the selflessness and courage of all men and women who have served our nation, it isn’t only a time for celebration. It’s a reminder that the lessons of the past can’t be taken for granted: the liberty and prosperity we enjoy today was hard-won by the sacrifices of those who lived through it.

At The Mayflower, we are doing our part to keep history alive for generations to come. More than 60 veterans call our community home, and their leadership, experience and character are a source of ongoing inspiration and wisdom.

Among those who have stepped up to preserve the stories and experiences of America’s veterans is Major General John C. Raaen (ret. U.S. Army). Now a centenarian, he is one of a small group of veterans still alive who served in World War II’s historic D-Day invasion.

After World War II ended, Raaen went on to earn high recognition over the course of his 36-year career, including service in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. And while he doesn’t enjoy dwelling on the memories of war, he believes in the importance of sharing his experiences with the next generation – and has spoken at memorial ceremonies, interviewed with historians and the Smithsonian, and written INTACT, his own account of D-Day.

Another Mayflower veteran, Ima Black, is a former member of the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, also called the Women’s Reserve). Founded in 1942 to provide auxiliary support in military positions traditionally only open to men, the WAVES enlisted more than 100,000 women volunteers to serve in diverse roles related to engineering, aeronautics, gunnery and more.

For Ima, patriotism is a family affair: Her late husband was the first Master Chief Petty Officer Delbert D. Black, and she herself was named an honorary Master Chief Petty Officer in 2007. When the Navy named a destroyer after her husband in 2017 (the USS Delbert D. Black), she presided over its christening. Over the years, the Navy has upheld a longstanding relationship with Ima – even flying her in a Navy helicopter for her 100th birthday in 2021.

However you choose to celebrate Veterans Day this year – a public ceremony, a moment of silence, a donation to charity, or simply a “thank you” to veterans in your life – we can all do a little to recognize America’s heroes for their hand in writing our nation’s history.

Here at The Mayflower, we’ll be holding a special ceremony to celebrate our veterans and reflect on the dedication of those who have served. The event will be led by residents Lt. Michael Elsberry (ret. U.S. Navy) and Maj. Gen. Douglas Metcalf (ret. U.S. Air Force) and attended by a color guard from Winter Park High School.

Our vibrant community welcomes dynamic individuals from all walks of life, from proud veterans like General Raaen and Ima Black to accomplished world travelers, artists, and industry leaders. To read more about their stories, check out past issues of our Navigator magazine – or, get to know our community firsthand by touring one of our stylish model apartments.

Ready to learn more? Send us a message or give us a call at 407.672.1620 to schedule your visit today. We look forward to hearing from you!