Hometown Heroes Banner Program gives community a way to honor Lansing veterans

Program open to all military branches, past and current service, former and current residents of Lansing

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 7, 2020) – One summer while Mayor Patty Eidam and her husband Bud were driving through one of the lakeside towns of Michigan, they noticed banners along the roadway that featured photos and names of military personnel. Mayor Eidam knew immediately that such a program would be a good fit for Lansing, Illinois. Upon returning home she began researching the details.

Eidam eventually learned that nearby Mokena and Alsip, Illinois, were in the process of launching such a program, and she learned the name of the banner provider they were using. A few phone calls and a few weeks later, she had a good understanding of the process, the price, and some pitfalls to avoid in order for Lansing to undertake its own version of the program. By February 18, at the Village Board meeting, she was ready to announce the Lansing Hometown Heroes Banner Program.

Lansing’s Hometown Heroes Banner Program is a way to honor any veterans who have called Lansing home. Army veteran Tony DeLaurentis was used as a sample.

Eligibility

The program is designed to honor Lansing veterans specifically, and the Village is hoping for a wide diversity of participation—in age, gender, ethnicity, service experience, and time in Lansing, whether long ago or more recently. All branches of the service are eligible—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and even the National Guard.

A brief application form is downloadable as a PDF from the Village website:

Completed applications can be returned to Village Hall along with:

  1. An original photo of the honored veteran in military uniform (All photos will be returned; high-resolution digital photos can also be submitted.)
  2. A copy of the veteran’s DD Form 214 (certificate of release or discharge from active duty)
  3. Payment of $150 (cash, check, or credit card) to the Village of Lansing

The application deadline is December 11, 2020.

Mayor Eidam is impressed with the quality of the banners printed by Crossmark Printing. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Honor

The Hometown Heroes program is not a fundraiser for the Village. “It’s a way to honor and bring recognition to our veterans and those serving,” said Mayor Eidam. The $150 cost is a discounted price that Mayor Eidam negotiated with Crossmark Printing, who will be producing the banners. The team at Crossmark is able to digitally correct old photos that may be torn or discolored, and professionally enlarge them to fill a 24×48″ banner.

Coordination

Lansing residents are accustomed to seeing banners along Ridge Road and Torrence Avenue—the Lansing Area Chamber has a banner program that gives local businesses a chance to keep their name and logo in front of people throughout the year. Businesses buy into the Chamber banner program for two years, and banner money covers production costs but also helps fund other Chamber programs.

The Chamber’s current two-year banner program will end this year. As they redesign their banners for 2021, they have agreed to coordinate with the Village and choose colors and themes that complement the Hometown Heroes banners.

The Chamber and the Village will also work together on placement of the banners, perhaps alternating Heroes banners and business banners. Specifics will not be decided until applications for both programs begin coming in.

Availability

A limited number of spots are available for both programs. The Chamber uses up to 75 light poles on Ridge and Torrence for their business banners; the Village will expand the number of available light poles as needed—perhaps south on Torrence, perhaps along Burnham Avenue, and perhaps around Fox Pointe. But final placement will be determined by the number of applications.

So Mayor Eidam is working to find a balance between giving people time to decide and urging them to sign up as soon as possible. Towns who rushed the application process, she learned, experienced lower response rates. Eidam wants Lansing residents to have plenty of time to understand the program, think of the people they want to honor, and find the right photos and paperwork to submit.

The Village will accommodate as many families as possible, but at some point the limit will be reached. “There is a finite number [of spaces],” explained Director of Communications Ken Reynolds. “We just don’t know exactly what that number is.”

Tony DeLaurentis (center, standing), whose Army photo was used to create the sample banner, spoke at the February 18 Village Board meeting. The Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard (in uniform, standing) presented colors at the opening of the meeting. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Keepsakes

In addition to honoring a friend or family member, people who choose to sponsor a banner will also receive a small easel-backed version for personal display. Those miniature banners will be displayed in the Lansing Public Library for the first year of the program, and then they will be given to the sponsors.

Mayor Eidam shows the small, easel-backed version of the Hometown Heroes banners that sponsors will receive. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Sponsors will also have the option to keep the full-size version of the banner at the end of the two-year program, though the Village cannot make any guarantees about the condition of the banners by 2022. Banners will be displayed approximately from Memorial Day through Veterans Day in 2021 and 2022, and they will be taken down and stored for the winter to minimize weathering as much as possible.

Application and information

The Lansing Hometown Heroes Banner Program application is already available for download at the Village website. Completed applications may be mailed in or turned in personally at Village Hall:

  • Village of Lansing
    Attn: Sheila Calomino
    3141 Ridge Road
    Lansing, IL 60438

Questions about the program can be directed to Sheila Calomino:

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