Blowing in the cool spring breeze, 140 banners saluting Sault Ste. Marie’s veterans are now on display along downtown street poles thanks to the “History of Hometown Heroes” banner project.
The project was originally pitched as a fundraiser for the Chippewa County Community Foundation (CCCF)’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) high school students’ annual service trip, and has taken on a life of its own. The goal for coordinators is to have all of the banners in place by Memorial Day weekend.
YAC students were able to jump right into the project once they received support from the community and local government entities. Roughly six months of preparation were needed to make this dream a reality.
Each two-foot by four-foot banner depicts a United States serviceperson, their military branch and years enlisted (and if applicable, honors received.) Families quickly booked up the first run of banners with plans for them to be on display for three full years. The initial banners were put up on May 16.
Local veteran Merle Gurnoe helped pitch the project idea after visiting his daughter in Troy, NY and seeing a similar program. From there, coordinators helped the YAC students make this patriotic recognition possible.
Now, not only are the downtown streets of Sault Ste. Marie filled with the area’s sprawling centuries old history, but they are entrenched with the sacrifices and triumphs of local veterans from the early 20th century until present day. With a walk downtown, you may see faces you recognize or familiar sounding names you can ask friends and family about. Behind each banner there is a wonderfully unique story.
Following the annual Memorial Day Parade at 7 p.m. on May 30, a Veterans’ Ceremony and Community Celebration will take place at Brady Park. The American Legion will help put on a cookout by donation.
This project is the perfect example of the great things that happen when multiple groups of people with a common goal work together. With the efforts of the CCCF, the YAC students, the Department of Public Works, and the support of the community, our hometown heroes will be honored for years to come.
Future plans include another run of banners with 50 people already on the wait list for 2020. To find out more information and how to be involved with the 2020 banners visit www.historyofhometownheroes.com or contact the CCCF at firstname.lastname@example.org.