DETROIT – A warm reception was waiting for 97-year-old Joe England Saturday morning.
“It seems funny to honor a building in a way, but not to me it doesn’t,” England said. “I feel really honored by this building and for this building.”
England grew up in the literal shadow of the station in an apartment building his family ran near Corktown. The station was a monument to the city that put the world on wheels.
He recalled playing alongside the historic building as a child before he was called to serve in World War II. England would land on Utah Beach in Normandy just after the D-Day Invasion in 1944 and moved westward. He helped the wounded in nearly every major battle on the Western Front.
Michigan Central Station was what saw England off from the Arsenal of Democracy.
After the war ended in 1945, England came back through the same train station he left from. He came back a different man. His family had already left Detroit, but it would always be his home.
He hasn’t returned to Detroit since 1945.
“I’m so glad they had the foresight to see the future and it’s falling in place as we stand here and talk about it,” England said. “That makes me happy. I’m so glad.”
There’s a saying, “You can’t go home again,” -- it doesn’t have much to do with the location, but with the person, with time and change.
“If they had torn this building down, it would have been part of my heart,” England said. “It sounds silly to say that about a building, but it’s true.”
Maybe change isn’t always bad and coming home will always be coming home as long as a piece of you is still there.
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