Workers place one of the nearly 200 Hometown Heroes banners saluting men and women from Union Twp., Miami County, for their military service. CONTRIBUTED.

Miami County village’s Hometown Heroes project reflect service, sacrifice

WEST MILTON – Banners that reflect nearly 200 stories of service and sacrifice to America have returned to poles along the main route through this western Miami County village for another season.

The Hometown Heroes banner project was created five years ago as a way to recognize men and women of Union Twp. for their military service.

Forty banners were featured the first year with 182 placed in May this year.

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“Since the inception, it (the program) has gathered a great following,” said village Manager Matt Kline.

The banners are on display along Miami Street (Ohio 48) from Memorial Day through Veterans Day.

Michael Collins, a Vietnam veteran living in Harrison Twp., said he was impressed when he drove through the village and first saw the banners. He’s still impressed by the display.

“I was touched,” he said.

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“I was very impressed and very touched by the fact the citizens, the county and the community still recognize the importance of honoring members of the community who served in conflicts of the past,” Collins said.

“Even though I don’t live in that community, everybody who served has a special bond,” Collins said.

The banners typically are bought by families but some have been purchased by organizations or businesses interested in honoring a friend or colleague, Kline said. The average cost is around $200 a banner based on the bill from the supplier each year.

Kline said the village is a pass-through for the banners and covers the cost of putting up the banners, taking them down and storage.

“We are happy to do the work,” he said.

A portion of each banner purchase is donated to the Gifts for Yanks Program of Ohio. The national organization was founded in 1944 to remember hospitalized veterans. The money goes to help veterans at local Veterans Administration hospitals.

Kline brought the idea of the banners to the village after seeing a display in a village he drove through while on a motorcycle vacation six years ago.

The company that supplies the banners estimates they have a life of eight to 10 years. They continue to look good, Kline said, adding once a banner starts to look worn, the family will be contacted and given the banner to keep. If they want to participate again, they would be more than welcome, he said.

“We intended to continue the program as long as we have folks who wish to participate,” Kline said.

Information on the banner program is on the village Facebook page or can be obtained by calling 937-698-1500, extension 100.

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