Justin Leon took the stage with 18 other cadets from the 34th Fire Training Academy Class who took the oath of office at in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday.
His father, Wayne Leon, previously served as an officer with the Cleveland Police Department. He was shot and killed in 2000 when Justin was just five years old.
Nineteen years later, Justin honored his father and was issued the same badge number his father wore, 1338, in a tear-jerking ceremony.
Justin’s mother, Grace, stood by his side and was given the honor to actually pin his new badge bearing the same number as her late husband. Lt. Mike Norman was also present at the cermony. He worked alongside Justin’s father and was one of the first responding officers when Wayne Leon was shot on 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.
Justin doesn’t remember much about his father, but 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 a local news outlet.
Justin said about his father, “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.