In a previous article I mentioned sharing stories about the communities that I visit. I’ll do that during this column. I recently visited Franklin, Neb. and saw banners on their light poles celebrating local veterans. I thought this was a great idea, and even though I had left the city office minutes earlier, I went right back in to hear the story of the banners.
While I was the community development director with the city of Imperial, the members of the local VFW raised funding for a new veterans’ memorial on the courthouse grounds. This project cost tens of thousands of dollars and was many years in the planning and fundraising process. I have visited many towns since then that have very nice veterans memorials, and I imagine that they have gone through that long process. North Platte has a very large veterans memorial south of the interstate where people bought bricks for their loved ones who have served. One of my grandfathers has a brick with his name on it there. These memorials are good projects when the community comes together to build them. But sometimes something with short term success is needed to build community momentum.
This idea from Franklin is an idea that works.
In Franklin, on each flagpole downtown, there is a banner that honors one local veteran. The top of the banner is part of the American Flag, over which it reads, “OUR HEROES”, and then there is a picture of the veteran, their rank, their name, their branch of service and time of service. They are very well-designed banners and they struck me as something very special. I found out that there was even more to the story.
The banners were the brainchild of a city board member. He was working on getting these done in the town, but he passed away before the project could be completed. His wife decided to use his memorial money to finish the project. She bought the first eight banners; each one has a different veteran on it. The city buys the brackets that fit on the light poles. Each banner costs a little over $100 and the brackets cost $70. The veteran banners are up from May through September, and then the city can put other seasonal banners up the rest of the time.
People are now able to purchase banners for their loved ones who have served. There are only eight poles downtown with banners, and now there are banners waiting to be hung year. After the banners are hung for one season, they are given back to the family. The family could resubmit them to be hung some other time. Raquel Felzien at the city office can be contacted for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-425-6295.
These banners are a great way to honor veterans. The families can display the banners in their homes or yards when they are no longer on display for the city. It is a way to remember for years to come. They are a great memorial on their own or they can be used to build momentum for a permanent memorial in the future.
If your community could benefit from any of the local ideas that I’ve discussed in this column, please reach out to me. I’d love to speak to your community about these topics. You can reach me at email@example.com or at the Thayer County office at 402-768-7212.
Jason Tuller is an Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He works in the Rural Prosperity Nebraska program and covers ten-county area including Kearney, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Jefferson Counties.