34 banners on roadways in towns of Lewiston, Porter until mid-fall
By Terry Duffy
You’ve likely seen them in your travels around western Niagara County: Attractive flags hanging from utility poles bearing the names of service members from the area. It’s a project that’s become known as the “Hometown Heroes” banner program – and it’s gaining popularity.
A national program, “Hometown Heroes” traces its beginnings to 2006 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The program recognizes those members of the community who currently serve or who have served in the past for this nation’s armed forces.
Many towns and villages have taken this opportunity to thank service men and women by displaying prominent banners with their photos. These banners, funded by their sponsors – be they individuals, families of service members and military or community organizations – are intended to honor those who have served. Banners typically include the host community, plus the honored service member’s name, photo, branch of service, and rank and time served. They are mounted to utility poles.
These markers have taken to the sky on roadways in Niagara County communities from North Tonawanda and the Town of Niagara to the towns of Lewiston, Porter and Newfane, and Village of Wilson. They will adorn poles in seasonal timeframe covering a period from Memorial Day to mid-fall, approaching the Veterans Day holiday.
“There are nearly 100 ‘Hometown Hero’ banners hanging in the Town of Niagara,” said Peter Ames, Town of Niagara historian. “I try to put them in some kind of order with the help of Phil Mitchell and his crew from the Town of Niagara Parks Department. Since there are so many, we try to have a fairly consistent plan, so persons can locate them. Every year, we attempt to rotate them so they can be in Veterans Park every third year, where they are more visible. Since there are only 38 poles in the park, the other 54 are displayed on Military and Lockport roads.”
Beyond Niagara County, these tributes have become part of many communities throughout New York state, from WNY extending eastward to the Finger Lakes Region and downstate into the Catskills and Hudson Valley.
Locally, the “Hometown Heroes” banner program recently debuted in the Town of Lewiston, Village of Youngstown and the Town of Porter.
Coordinated by the town historians in Lewiston and Porter, with the cooperation and assistance of a number of officials, 34 banners were placed in tribute to some special service members.
“My banners are up!” exclaimed a proud Marjorie L. Maggard, Town of Lewiston historian. “They really look nice; they look great!
“I believe that these guys (service members) should be rewarded for being on the line, being in the service, and going where they have to go, not knowing where they’re going to be and without their families. I think if that’s all I can do (with this project), my gosh, I’m going to do it.”
Town of Porter “Hometown Hero” John R. Johnston’s service is displayed on Lockport Street in the Village of Youngstown. (Photo by Kevin and Dawn Cobello, K&D Photo and Aerial Imaging)
Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick spoke highly of this program, as did Porter Supervisor John “Duffy” Johnston.
“Family members paid for these banners. They’re something special,” Broderick said.
“They’re awesome,” Johnston agreed. “I saw the banners in Ransomville, and my dad’s at the post office in Youngstown. They look simply beautiful.”
This weekend and throughout the summer and into fall, residents are encouraged to check out the many “Hometown Heroes” banners.
In the Town of Niagara, Ames advised, “From the intersection of Witmer and Military roads, the banners start with the A’s and head south along Military Road until you get to the intersection at Lockport and Military. Around there are D’s-G’s. Continuing south down Military Road to ‘6 corners,’ you will find G’s-H’s. Back to Lockport and Military and heading toward the park, H’s-M’s. As you enter Veterans Park, the first 12 poles contain a veteran from each war from the Revolutionary War up through Afghanistan. The other poles in the park contain M’s-S’s. Back out of the park to Lockport and heading east, you will find S’s-Z’s down to Miller Road. I attempt to make it fair by placing them in alphabetical order and rotating them on an annual basis.”
In the Town of Lewiston, “If you haven’t been down Ridge Road to Creek from the village line, or River Road from the village line down to Pletcher, please take a drive and pay attention to the banners,” Broderick said. They’re also on Buffalo Street in Sanborn.”
In the Town of Porter, Johnston said the displays include 13 in the Village of Youngstown, including on Main and Lockport streets and residential and park areas. In the hamlet of Ransomville, there are 21 banners on display, including on Youngstown Lockport Road and on Ransomville Road.
“You have to see them. They’re just beautiful,” Johnston said.
“I’m so impressed with the towns pulling together to get this done. I really appreciated the workers and help from the Town of Wheatfield,” Maggard said.
She noted, “Come January of next year, I’m going to be accepting applications.”
Robert Frost shows the banner of his father, Duane Frost, USMC, a three-time Purple Heat recipient from the Vietnam War, on display at Veterans Park in the Town of Niagara. (Submitted photo)
Town of Lewiston “Hometown Hero” William “Bill” Kilmer is memorialized on Ridge Road and Cayuga Drive. (Submitted photo)