Banner program to recognize local veterans
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – The city of Stevens Point and Berens-Scribner American Legion Post No. 6 are launching their first Hometown Heroes Banner Program to honor local veterans past and present.
The program follows on the footsteps of similar programs that exist in Marshfield, Rudolph, Auburndale, and more recently Wisconsin Rapids.
Barbara McCloy is organizing the program for the American Legion.
“Well, we had an American Legion post meeting and Jim Morris brought in a sample that he had already seen in some of the outlying areas. And he started reaching out to people. He brought that in and a whole bunch of information, and he presented it to the post,” she recalled.
“So I took all the information from him and started doing my homework and reaching out and it ran from there. We need to catch up to all the outlying areas and this is awesome. I know we have a huge veteran presence in Stevens Point and Plover.”
The vinyl banner features the veteran’s photo, name, and branch of service, and will hang from Memorial Day to Veterans Day.
“Sponsored by companies, organizations and families, the banners will be displayed on light poles on the Armed Services Memorial Bridge (Clark Street Bridge) and continue downtown on Clark Street. Beginning spring of 2023, the banners will be displayed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, annually,” a release from Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza’s office explained.
“When I talked to Mike Wiza for Stevens Point he said sky’s the limit, you know, we’re going to start on the bridge and work our way down Clark Street for now. There’s, you know, 60 poles maybe so I’m going to maybe start small and say 10 to 15 and we’ll see where it goes. But we’re not capping anything. What I’m finding is that if we start with so many calls and run out of room, then we would have to start a waiting list. But I don’t see that happening for the first year,” McCloy said.
She said that it is important to start those conversations regarding the sacrifices the area’s local veterans have made.
“We need to recognize/remember where we came from. What got us the freedoms that we have. Recognize the people that have sacrificed for people who they’ve never met. All of these people that came in thinking that they were just protecting the country and didn’t realize, you know, some of the impacts on their neighbors and their communities and the businesses in the area. They’ve sacrificed their time, their freedom, their health.
“And that’s just something that we need to remember because nothing in this world is free. And it’s not just the dollars, it’s the sacrifice of people’s health and lives. And we need to remember that because the people in some of these newer generations, they don’t; they haven’t heard some of the really important stories that are out there. And I’ve heard some already that almost bring you to tears. And I want that to continue and I want them to be more public. So I want people to see these, or even kids to see these banners and say, ‘Hey, Mom, why is that guy hanging up there? Who is he?’ And then start that conversation in the homes.”
McCloy, herself is a veteran of the Navy, who went through three mobilizations after returning to service.
“I did four years on a submarine tender straight out of high school, best choice in my life and first time out of the state of Wisconsin. And then, you know, get married, have kids, get divorced, and come home, and 911 happened,” she explained. “2006 rolled around and I talked to the children and I said, ‘I’m going back in.’”
“So I pushed it all the way to 23 years and said, okay, and my family couldn’t have been more excited. Because after three mobilizations, they didn’t want me gone anymore. “
Now, McCloy wants to make sure her fellow service men and women are recognized and give local families and community members an impetus for conversation, which Point Mayor Mike Wiza is happy to play a role in.
“Honoring and remembering those in our community who have served is an important part of our history”, said Mayor Mike Wiza. “I’m proud to have played a small role in getting this going and I hope our community feels the same way.”
To learn more, contact the Berens-Scribner American Legion Post 6 at [email protected] or Hometown Heroes Banner Program, P.O. Box 322, Stevens Point, WI, 54481, or call 715-340-5485
McCloy said that she is also talking to the village of Plover to institute the program there.