Giving Back

Berkeley Heights to Honor its Hometown Heroes

Gay Hollowell holds up a 'Hometown Hero' banner while explaining the program to the Berkeley Heights Council at the Feb. 21 meeting. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Members of the Memorial Park Renewal Committee are preparing a new way to honor veterans and serving members of the military -- banners honoring both veterans and those currently serving.

Committee member Gay Hollowell unfurled a Hometown Hero banner at the Feb. 21 Township Council meeting. The banners are the next step in "Operation We Remember," which seeks to educate the community about those residents who are veterans and those currently serving.

The Hometown Heroes Banners feature a photograph of the veteran, the branch of the service in which he or she served and the date or conflict. Each side of the banner will feature a different person, she said. 

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The plan is for an "Avenue of Heroes" along Plainfield and Springfield avenues, she said. People will be able to find specific veterans with a map legend, she said.

To be eligible, a person has to have been living or working in Berkeley Heights, she said.

Hollowell said committee members would like the banners to be hung in throughout the month of May before Memorial Day and from mid-October to mid-November for Veterans Day. 

The banners will be hung from brackets already installed on poles along Springfield and Plainfield avenues, she said. The work will be done by the DPW.

A volunteer has stepped forward and will be able to produce the banners at cost, Hollowell said. The turnaround is about three days for each banner she told the council. 

Volunteers have put together similar programs across the country, she said. "We have identified a potential donor for the program" and will also use money raised by the Memorial Park Renewal Committee's 501(c)3, she said. Donations for this program would be greatly appreciated and can be done online at BHMemorialPark.com or sent/made payable to Memorial Park Renewal Committee 29 Park Ave BH 07922. The donations are tax deductible through 501(c)3 status.

She did not speculate on how many banners would eventually line the streets. Currently there are 14 people in the active military. Along with veterans themselves and family members of veterans, deceased or living, the VFW will help identify other people who should be included, she said,  New Providence has its own Hometown Heroes project and "once people saw the banners, more eligible people were found." 

Council members were enthusiastic about the project and gave their approval to the program.

Those who want take part in the program, or to recommend someone for inclusion, should fill out the application here

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