HAMBURG — Sue Jantzi began Hamburg’s “Hometown Hero Banner Project” in 2012, in a stated effort of honoring local individuals who have been or are currently deployed for United States military services.
Jantzi’s daughter attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and has been deployed twice to Iraq, in addition to serving a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Saying that she was inspired by a hometown heroes display in a Rochester village, Jantzi proposed this idea to local officials.
“I presented it to the village board. They really fell in love with the idea and honoring hometown heroes,” she said. Due to reconstruction that was occurring at the time, Jantzi said that utilizing the new local light poles was a “great opportunity” for the project, because they could structurally support the project’s banners.
LOCAL HONOR — Pictured is the first banner to be displayed in the village of Hamburg for the 2012 Hometown Hero Banner Project. Photo submitted by Sue Jantzi.
During the first Hometown Heroes year, 32 locally printed banners featuring solders from all service branches were hung on Buffalo Street, between Legion Drive and Union Street. This year, the project has extended to Center and Lake streets.
“It was a big hit,” Jantzi said. “There was a great response from parents, wives and families.”
Featured heroes meet specific criteria. Soldiers must be current or past residents of Hamburg, have served in an active war zone since Sept. 11, 2001 and have been students at any of the private or public Hamburg schools.
Jantzi said that, as long as criteria was met, she accepted the applications in the order in which she received them.
“I wanted to make the whole project a local project,” she said. Evenhouse Printing, located at 4783 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg, created the banners; each costs $125 to make.
The images are repeatedly coated, to make the banner weatherproof. Not only are soldiers represented with photos in uniform, but the banners also list one or two awards and honors that the soldiers may have been given.
“A lot of the soldiers are very proud; they don’t want to be recognized, but their families want them to do it,” Jantzi said. “It’s hard for a family to deal with a child being deployed.”
After almost a year, the banners were taken down and given to families as a keepsake. In some cases, restaurants and local establishments adopted a banner and donated to the project.
Families displayed the banners, during last year’s Hamburg Memorial Day parade. “It was really rewarding,” Jantzi said.
This project is done at no charge for the service families. The Hometown Heros Banner Project is supported entirely by donations. During the first year, Jantzi said she compiled $5,000 in monetary gifts, by just word of mouth.
This year, Jantzi has proposed something new; phase three of the Hometown Hero Banner Project will include honoring United States veterans of the Vietnam War.
“A lot of families want to recognize them,” Jantzi said, “even though they feel like they don’t want to be recognized.”
Banners will be hung by approximately April 1; 37 applicants will be accepted on a “first come, first serve” basis.
Jantzi said she is “really blessed to have enough money to do this project,” but if individuals are interested in donating, they may mail checks to the Hometown Heroes Banner Project, 213 E. Prospect Ave., Hamburg, NY 14075.
Applications for the project are available at the Hamburg Town Hall, located at S6100 S. Park Ave. in Hamburg, and the Hamburg Village Hall, located at 100 Main St.
For more information, call Jantzi at 863-5880.