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Banner program to honor local veterans, active military coming to Farmington

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published March 18, 2020

 A proof of the banner design featuring local veteran Albert Roe.

A proof of the banner design featuring local veteran Albert Roe.

Image provided by Melissa Andrade

FARMINGTON — A new banner program to honor and recognize local veterans and active-duty military members plans to make its way to Farmington this spring.

Farmington Public Safety Cmdr. Andrew Morché and Assistant to the City Manager Melissa Andrade, who are organizing the program, received approval for the program from City Council March 2. Mayor Sara Bowman was absent from the meeting but expressed support for the program via email.

“Farmington is a very strong community. The service and volunteerism here is very exceptional, and we think the visible recognition of honoring our veterans is important,” Morché said. “It will improve the downtown and improve relationships throughout the community.”

The program grew out of curiosity from Morché after helping escort local veteran Albert Roe — who will be one of the first five veterans featured on a banner — to participate in an Honor Flight. Honor Flights are conducted by nonprofit organizations to provide veterans an opportunity to see memorials in Washington, D.C., for the respective wars they fought in. After returning, Morché and his colleagues began to brainstorm, and upon seeing a banner program in Sault Ste. Marie, Morché wanted to recreate the program locally.

Organizers are hoping to bring the program to life by Memorial Day this year, when the initial five banners will be placed on street lamps along the downtown corridor through November. The program would run May-November the following years.

The banners will be designed by Susanne Dudzik and printed by Encore Impressions.

The program will be funded by the Historical Commission for the first year, and after that, organizers are hoping they can open it up to more folks who would purchase the banners for themselves or their family members. There will be a cap on how many banners can be placed per year, though Andrade said that cap is yet to be determined.

Banners would cost roughly $225, which would include all costs associated.

The banners would include biographical information about the military members featured, a photograph and their record of service. Organizers also hope to include an online version of the program, where more in-depth stories can be told and used for educational purposes.

“I think, from an educational standpoint, it would be fabulous. I don’t understand what anyone’s gone through or what they’ve done, but I would love to hear those stories,” Andrade said. “We will collect them and keep them where everyone can read them (and) where kids can have access during special events that honor veterans. We are even talking about doing something at our war memorial with the stories in the future.”

With approximately 200 veteran members of the Groves-Walker American Legion Post, Post Cmdr. Marya Davis said this type of project would allow veterans who might find it difficult otherwise to open up about their experiences and help connect with others.

“This is an opportunity to bring light to the veterans, honor them and then increase, hopefully, more joining with us,” Davis said. “It’s a great way to connect. Veterans have a special side of them. … It’s hard for others to understand some of the things they’ve gone through in their mindset. Being able to be with others like them really is an asset.”

Jim Forbes, 93, a World War II Army veteran from 1945-1947 and current sergeant-at-arms at the Groves-Walker Post, thinks the program is a great idea to recognize veterans.

“It’s very important for people to see us, to be known (and) be seen,” Forbes said. “It’s a 365-day operation.”

He added that the program could have positive impacts for him and other veterans in the same way that being recognized for his service during Farmington’s annual Memorial Day parade has done for him. Forbes has previously served as the grand marshal of the parade.

The banner program will be open to anyone who wants to recognize a veteran in Farmington, not just those located within the greater Farmington area. Andrade said veterans or their families will be given the banners to keep after they’re hung for a season. There will also be an option to rehang them for a fee.

For more information and to access an application, visit farmgov.com/militarybanners or call Andrade at (248) 474-5500, ext. 2221.