Photo: From right, Salamanca IDA Director Ruthe Riehle and Salamanca American Legion Auxiliary President Sue Williams watch the first of 300 Hometown Heroes banners installed in the city. – Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.
By Kellen M. Quigley | Special to Olean Times Herald | Reprinted from oleantimesherald.com
SALAMANCA — Hundreds of veterans from the Salamanca area had their military service honored this summer with the implementation of the Hometown Heroes banner program.
Hanging on telephone and light poles throughout the city, banners displaying a veteran’s portrait, name and branch and years served are flying high as a way to thank and memorialize those who went above and beyond for their country.
A co-venture between the Salamanca American Legion Auxiliary and Salamanca Industrial Development Agency (IDA), 300 people have purchased banners for their loved ones.
We’ve been following this story since it was first proposed 51 weeks ago by IDA Director Ruthe Riehle at the November 2019 Common Council meeting. At that time, the plan was to get about 100 banners and hang them along Broad and Clinton streets.
At the council’s Jan. 22 meeting, grant administrator Sandi Brundage reported that the Hughes Skiba Auxiliary Post 535 and the city of Salamanca Flag Pride Committee was awarded a Hometown Heroes Banner project grant from the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation.
Within a couple months, 80 banners had been purchased and were ready to hang. If more were purchased, they’d hang along Route 417 stretching from one end of the city to another.
Seven months later, nearly 300 banners are hanging throughout the city. Many names from Salamanca’s history appear on the banners, including local government officials, community leaders and business owners.
Salamanca American Legion Auxiliary President Sue Williams said most of the veterans recognized served during World War II, Korean and Vietnam. There are Purple Hearts, Silver Stars, some who were missing in action and some who died while serving.
Now, the American Legion Auxiliary and the IDA need the community’s help taking the banners off the poles and getting them to their winter storage.
Take-down day will be weather permitting, meaning no rain or snow. Crews of three people — a ladder climber, a ladder tender and an assistant — and 12-foot-tall ladders also needed.
Volunteers are asked to meet Saturday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Salamanca American Legion. A rain date will be announced as necessary. To volunteer, leave a message at the American Legion, 945-1460.
Plans are to re-install the banners in May prior to Memorial Day.