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Austintown offers chance to honor military veterans

Staff photo / Nathanael Hawthorne American Legion Post 301 Commander Dave Ewing, left, and second Commander Tom Moss look over a banner created for Ewing by militarytributebanners.org. The men have started a banner program for Austintown Township veterans in which the banners will be hung along the parade route on Idaho Road from Marc’s grocery store to Austintown Fitch High School, and on South Raccoon Road from Kirk Road to the high school.

AUSTINTOWN — It’s fairly typical around Memorial Day to see banners hanging from utility poles commemorating veterans in various Mahoning Valley communities.

Austintown wants to be one of those places.

American Legion Post 301 Commander Dave Ewing and second Commander Tom Moss have taken up the cause of getting these banners in the township.

“I came up with the idea just from seeing them on telephone poles in different towns,” Ewing said. “I thought that since Austintown is veteran-friendly, I’d bring it up to the Legion group and the trustees to see about getting it started here.”

Township trustees were on board. At a recent meeting, Ewing and Moss presented one of the banners they already have to show trustees the general layout and explain the process of getting one ordered.

Trustee Ken Carano suggested the applications could be kept at the administration building to make it easier for people to get them, rather than online.

“I think they’re a great idea,” Trustee Steve Kent said.

“We dedicated two POW / MIA chairs at the high school gymnasium and the high school football field, but this will be the first time these banners will be in the township,” Ewing noted.

THE PROCESS

Residents can purchase a banner for a veteran by filling out an application with their name and contact information. The contact information is necessary for the company making the banners — militarytributebanners.org — because it emails a proof of how the banner is going to look to ensure everything is correct. The person submitting the application must approve it before the banner can be completed.

The applicant’s name will be included as the sponsor. If the veteran is still living, that person will need to sign a release attached to the application.

Aside from the application, a picture of the veteran in full uniform is required as well as a check or money order for $175. That covers the cost of printing the banner, shipping and handling, mounting brackets and for the manpower to hang them. They’ll be hung along the parade route on Idaho Road from the Marc’s grocery store to Austintown Fitch High School, and on South Raccoon Road from Kirk Road to the high school. If needed, the banners can be taken all the way down to the veterans memorial at Wickliffe Circle.

Each banner will be hung for two years from May 1 to Nov. 1. During the period they are not displayed, they will be kept securely in their original packaging.

“After two years, the banner is yours to keep,” Ewing said. “The two-year program was something I came up with because $175 for one year was a little steep, but two years is worth the money.”

Ewing and Moss said the fire department had tossed around the idea of supplying a bucket truck to help hang the banners safely. Ewing also reached out to Ohio Edison to make sure they can put up the banners.

PERSONAL REASONS

Both men have personal reasons for wanting the banners. Ewing served in Iraq and made an Army career, retiring after 30 years. Moss served in the Vietnam War from 1974 to 1976, but had to leave because he injured his legs.

Second, “I feel that veterans don’t get the proper recognition they rightfully deserve. This is just one way to recognize them, and let people see the sacrifices they made,” Ewing said.

Third, Moss said the banners serve as a reminder to the families who sponsor them. They can show appreciation by hanging up a banner.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in the service, out of the service or gone, you can still put that picture up there so other family members can go past it and say something like, ‘look, there’s grandpa’,” he said.

The banners are open to anyone, not just Austintown residents.

“If you live in Austintown, but your grandson is a veteran or in the service, you can still get one put up,” Moss said.

Moss is hanging one for himself, and his father, who also served.

GENERATING INTEREST

“I’m hoping we can get a good bit of people and make it a big success for Austintown,” Ewing said. “To have the first batch of banners by May 1, I need to have all orders in by April 1. As long as I can get the company’s order in by the last week in March, we can hang them for Memorial Day.”

Ewing and Moss said they are doing everything in their power to get the word out.

“We have fliers with the information we are taking to businesses and stores, and we are asking if we can put them up to get the word out,” Ewing said.

“The support has been great. Everyone’s been all for it and I’ve had quite a few people say they were interested already,” he said.

The two also are using word-of-mouth. Ewing, for example, is going to local VFW members and talking about the program.

“We have members here that belong to other groups, so they will also take it to those groups to spread it around,” Moss said.

Township Trustee Jim Davis said the banners are a great way to honor those who served.

“We’ve seen it in other communities so I’m glad it’s being brought to Austintown. I think it’s a great idea and I can’t wait to see the finished project,” he said.

Anyone interested is asked to contact Ewing at 330-799-2851 or visit www.militarytributebanners.org and select “Current Programs / Austintown, OH” for more information.

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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