Up to 75 Hometown Heroes banners honoring the military service of Hartland natives will be hung along Ridge Road next year.
The banner program, already embraced by neighboring communities including Medina, the Village of Middleport and Barker/Somerset, initially seemed unlikely to fly in a town without a Main Street, but town historian Norman LaJoie says community leaders decided they could make it work.
To ensure the banners are really seen and appreciated by passing motorists, he said, “We could put them in the reduced speed limit areas, in the hamlet of Hartland Corners and the hamlet of Johnson Creek.”
Any current or past resident of Hartland who served in a branch of the U.S. armed forces, in war or peace time, is eligible to be featured on a Hometown Heroes banner.
The banners are 60 inches tall, 30 inches wide and made from a type of canvas with a plastic finish. Each one will include a photograph of the veteran, their name, service branch, rank, where they served and any awards received. The photograph can show the veteran in or out of uniform, LaJoie said.
The banners are to be purchased by family members or friends of the veterans and these "sponsors" can be identified on the banners if they wish. The cost of a banner is $185.
Only 75 banners will be produced, since that's the maximum number that can be accommodated on existing utility poles in Hartland Corners and Johnson Creek.
Beginning next year, the banners will be hung from Memorial Day through Labor Day, then taken down and stored until the following May.
In addition, Hartland's Hometown Heroes will be featured in a book titled "Hartland in the Military."
“In the back portion of the book will be the photographs of everybody on the banners, and a short synopsis of their military career,” LaJoie said.
Before the banners are hung, they'll be displayed together at one of the fire halls in town, some time in April 2021. The book will be available at that time, according to LaJoie.
“I understand that when other jurisdictions have (displayed the banners en masse), the family members have stood in front of banners and had photographs taken,” he said. “It got pretty emotional.”
Orders for banners must be placed by Nov. 16. For an application, more information and program guidelines, select the Hometown Heroes link on the town website: www.townofhartland.org, or call the town clerk's office at (716) 735-7179.