Justin Leon was one of 19 cadets from the 34th Fire Training Academy Class who took the oath of office in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday.
He was only five when his father, Wayne Leon, an officer with the Cleveland Police Department, was shot and killed in 2000.
Nineteen years later, in a tear-jerking ceremony, Justin paid homage to his dad as he was issued Badge 1338, the same badge number his father wore.
Justin’s mother, Grace, stood by his side and was the one to pin her son’s new badge bearing the same number as her late husband’s.
Also present was Lieutenant Mike Norman, who worked alongside Justin’s father and was one of the first responding officers when Wayne Leon was shot June 25, 2000. “To be 19 years later and to have his son come join us on the Cleveland fire department, his family being so dedicated to the citizens and visitors of Cleveland that they continued that service, I think it’s really important; it says a lot about Justin and his family,” Norman said.
Although Justin doesn’t remember much about his father, he was so moved by his commitment to protecting the citizens of Cleveland that he decided to pursue the same path as he got older. “I’ve always wanted to do something to help people and I’ve wanted to do something with safety forces,” Justin told FOX 8 News.
About his father, Justin said, “I’ve always been told that he was very generous and very helpful and he was always just wanting to do the right thing and that he was always the guy to call when someone needed help.”
As he enters the line of duty, the significance of wearing his father’s badge number isn’t lost on Justin. “It’s almost just like the legacy kind of lives on in a way,” he said.