American Legion, cities join forces for “Hometown Heroes” banner program
Denise Jones Watts, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post 67, said a member of her group recently saw a social media post honoring the military service of a friend’s father. Thus was born the idea of hanging banners honoring “Hometown Heroes” in the Woodford County’s two cities. “We … thought we ought to be involved in this, and so we reached out and indicated we were interested in looking into it. Since that time, we’ve raised some funds and it’s been a long process, because there are a lot of moving parts,” Watts said. Watts said the City of Midway had already indicated a desire for a stronger Legion presence there. “Both of the mayors (Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott) were very receptive, and I think that’s how the ball got rolling,” she said. Under the program, a Legion committee will review nominations for the banners, which will be hung on light posts in each city. The five-page application for the program can be downloaded or picked up at the Post 67, which is at 138 South Main Street in Versailles. Among the requirements is that the nominator show proof of the veteran’s honorable discharge with their DD-214 separation papers. Exempt from that requirement are those whose names are on the veterans memorial at the county courthouse, who will receive a gold star on their banner, and members of the American Legion, who provided that documentation when they joined the group. Asked the goal of the program, Watts said, “First and foremost, we wish to honor those who have defended our country and our freedom. Secondly, it is a personal way for proud friends and family to honor those whose service and sacrifice to all of us has been great. And lastly, Post 67 would hope that those not already involved with the post would see that we continue our service within this community and will ultimately join us in that endeavor.” Watts said Post 67 has set aside enough money to nearly cover the full cost of the banners, and that a “significant number of people” have indicated they want to purchase their banner with no or only a little help from the Legion. The full costs of the banners are $51.94 for Midway and $87.98 for Versailles, with the price difference due to the size of the banners, Watts said. There is space for 43 banners in Versailles and 14 in Midway, but Watts said the only limit to the size of the project is funds. “We have great support from the Legion and we are able to do a lot, but if we have more than the number indicated in either city, we’ll just have more and they will … be rotated by the cities,” Watts said. The banners will feature a photo of the veterans, if available, their branch of service and likely the years they served, she said. The Legion will buy the banners and place them in the care of the cities. “We are looking for people who have some sort of connection to Woodford County. We are not going to limit it to veterans who have lived there,” Watts said. The frequency and duration for which the banners will be displayed depends on how many the Legion nominates for the honor, with the first being hung next Memorial Day. “Both of the mayors have indicated they think they will hang (the banners) two to three times a year – probably on Memorial Day and Veterans Day and perhaps on the Fourth of July,” Watts said. “Anyone with a family member or loved one that has served has a sense of pride in the fact that they have done that. I think it’s a very personal way of expressing that.