A Black Hawk helicopter that touched down in the Northrop Grumman parking lot Tuesday contributed a lot to the company's annual America Day celebration.
For employees of the Rolling Meadows company, the Black Hawk was their work come to life, on a day that celebrates the relationship between the military and their work and families.
More practically, the helicopter also brought America Day speaker Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, who emphasized the importance of companies like Northrop Grumman in the life of a civilian soldier.
"It is the relationship between the employer and the Guard and the Reserve that allows the Guard to stand up, because of your acceptance and encouragement to serve in the military," said Krumrei, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.
He also declared that the work of the global security company supports his soldiers on duty.
"I look out among you here today, and I see men and women who every day work and strive to protect and save the lives of my soldiers and of my airmen," he said.
Northrop Grumman provides systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems and technical services to both the government and commercial customers.
One of the America Day honorees, Capt. David Tess, works for Northrop Grumman but also serves in the Illinois National Guard. He sat onstage with other service members and their families.
"It's such a huge burden to have to manage two careers at the same time that without this civilian employer support, it's impossible," said Tess. "I get to be a developer on these systems on the civilian side, and then I'm actually a user on the military side."
Katie Mikols, whose husband Lt. Commander John Mikols of the U.S. Navy deployed in May, also gave her thanks. Her husband will be gone for a year before returning to his wife and his job at Northrop Grumman.
"It's a wonderful feeling of support and reassurance to know that his company and his town are so supportive," said Mikols.
Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney, himself a veteran, echoed the sentiments.
"The city of Rolling Meadows is so proud to be home to the people who know just how important it is to design systems that win and that bring our heroes home," Rooney said. "God bless the work you do."
Northrop Grumman Sector Vice President Jeff Palombo hosted America Day.
"Today is about those who sacrifice to serve our country and their family and friends who support them," said Palombo, general manager of the Rolling Meadows facility.