GUILDERLAND — The town and its chamber of commerce are continuing the third annual Hometown Heroes Banner project, to honor veterans and people on active duty service, despite COVID-19.
With banners displayed publicly across town, they honor current or former Guilderland, Altamont, Berne, Knox or Westerlo residents who served or are now in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard, or are honorably discharged military veterans. Honored individuals can be living or deceased. Each banner has the individual’s name, rank, photograph, area of service and years served.
This year, 12 new banners were sponsored by several businesses, families and community organizations. The Guilderland Chamber and Parks and Recreation Department also hung banners of past honorees from the last two years.
They are displayed at Tawasentha Park, Town Hall, the Guilderland Public Library, Westmere Fire Department and Guilderland Fire Department. In late October, they will either be moved indoors at Crossgates Mall or returned to their sponsors.
For the list of honorees and their banner locations, visit www.guilderlandchamber.com/hometownheroes.
“The town is proud to be an inaugural partner in this effort which recognizes residents who have and are continuing to serve our nation,” said Guilderland Town Supervisor Peter G. Barber. “This banner program reminds us that our community is blessed by women and men who have served our country and honors the dedication of our veterans and their families.”
Guilderland Chamber Executive Director Danielle Walsh said, “The Hometown Heroes Banner project is a wonderful way to honor our community’s veteran and active duty service members. Thank you to the town of Guilderland Parks and Highway departments for working with us to get the banners up throughout town.”
Colin J. Gallup, the town’s director of Parks and Recreation, expressed gratitude for the public’s positive reaction to the hung banners so far. “The banners can elevate a simple walk in Tawasentha Park into an experience of gratitude, a meditation on service, or a history lesson depending on the individual,” he added. “While it is impossible to thank our local veterans and active duty military men and women enough, the Hometown Heroes Banner Project is an important element of our community’s gratitude.”
The Hometown Heroes Banner project had 29 banners in 2018 and 17 banners in 2019.
Normally, the project would launch with an opening ceremony in late spring or early summer to honor the individuals themselves, where their families, friends and the public can gather to view the displayed banners.
“Unfortunately, we cannot host an opening ceremony as we typically would in spring,” Walsh said. “But we are excited to have new virtual options for residents to learn about our town’s heroes and enjoy the Hometown Hero’s project from a safe distance. … Despite not being able to gather, we are still able to honor the Hometown Heroes and share their stories.”
A closing ceremony is scheduled this November as part of Military Awareness Day at Crossgates Mall although it may be affected if COVID-19-related public gathering restrictions continue then.
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “As an Army veteran, I understand the sacrifices they and their families each made. While we cannot have the proper ceremony that they deserve like in years past due to the ongoing pandemic, let these banners be a reminder of our unwavering appreciation and respect.”