New Berlin Hometown Heroes Banner Program Prepares For Second Phase
Published: December 28th, 2021

New Berlin Hometown Heroes Banner program prepares for second phase Hometown Heroes Banner Program Supporter Victoria L. Gregory stands with New Berlin DPW workers Jared Kline, Paul Button, and Tanner Webb as the banners were displayed earlier this year. (Submitted photo)

NEW BERLIN – This summer and fall New Berlin coordinated with the New Berlin Rotary Club, New Berlin American Legion and Legion Auxiliary, Unadilla Valley Central School District and community leaders to honor area veterans with banners through the Hometown Heroes Banner Program.

According to Hometown Hero Coordinator Elaine Lennon, the Village of New Berlin displayed banners of military veterans earlier this year as a way of recognizing their service to our country. Banners were also received for South New Berlin heroes. She said the next phase of the project will launch in the coming weeks.

Lennon said the program wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Victoria L. Gregory, a retired Afton agriculture teacher, who is currently serving as the New Berlin Rotary President and president of the UV Scholastic Scholarship Committee. Victoria’s extraordinarily generous donation was the financial stimulus needed to make the Hometown Hero Banners project a reality. The New Berlin American Legion Auxiliary was also a major contributor.

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“We saw veteran banners displayed in several other communities, namely Bainbridge, and we thought this would be a great opportunity for us as well” said Lennon. “This was started as a ‘pilot program.’”

“We asked the New Berlin American Legion, which now includes veterans from both New Berlin and South New Berlin, if they would be interested in participating in such a recognition project. Lennon said 27 New Berlin American Legion veterans signed on to the pilot program.”

Lennon said the banners are made of a vinyl material, approximately 24 x 48 with the photograph and printing visible on both sides. She said the banners are designed to withstand the elements, however, to help preserve the banners for years to come, Jared Kline and the Village of New Berlin DPW agreed to remove the banners and store them over the winter. She added that the banners will be displayed again next year from Memorial Day through Veterans Day 2022.

“We are moving into phase two after hearing such a positive response from the community. During this phase, we will be partnering with the Unadilla Valley Central School District student graphic arts department to aid any veteran who might need assistance scanning their photo,” said Lennon.

Program organizers are preparing to accept applications which will be available at additional locations around New Berlin and South New Berlin in the coming weeks. Applications will be accepted until April 1, 2022. Lennon added that the total price of the banner and bracket to the program is $145.00.

To help sustain the program a “Good Will Donation” may be made to the Unadilla Valley Community Scholarship Fund.

“It was Victoria’s goal and it is our goal that no eligible Veteran be denied a banner due to financial constraints,” she said. “The banners include the service person’s name, photograph, branch of service, years of service, or conflict in which they served.”

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“In order to be considered for a banner, applicants must have lived in New Berlin or South New Berlin at some point in their life, be serving in or have served in one of the following branches, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Command, National Guard, or Reserves and must be honorably discharged.”

One of the veterans recognized through the program was Major General Retired and current New Berlin Mayor Peter Lennon. He said this banner program has served as a bridge to help unify New Berlin and South New Berlin veterans and is a great way to celebrate the area’s overall heritage of service.

“I was raised just across the river from the Village of New Berlin and knew many of these folks and their families growing up: I didn’t even know that some had served,” he added. “I encourage every family to be proud of and recognize their often quiet heroes.”

“It’s neat that they’ve been able to place some of the banners in front of the Veteran’s childhood home or a location that’s significant to the family: I know that my Dad would have been one of those who said he didn’t want the recognition, but his picture was hung near where his old dental office was located at the Village’s main intersection.”

– From the Hometown Heroes Banner Program of New Berlin and South New Berlin