Medina Hometown Hero Banners began in 2019 following a trip to Alfred in May of the same year. My family and I were attending the display of Alfred Hometown Hero Banners to view the banner for my father-in- law Willis Burr Woodruff. We gathered with many of our family members and all of us entered the gymnasium to view the banners. We were struck with awe when we viewed Willis Burr Woodruff’s banner for the first time. Taking time for “photo shots”, I soon began to wander and view the many other heroes of this town. As I finished the banner tour, I took it upon myself to seek the organizer of this project, Terah Soule. Fortunately, I was accompanied by an excellent mentor which provided me with an agenda to present to the Village Board. I presented the “Medina Hometown Hero Banner” program to the Mayor and Board of Trustees in December, 2018. The Village Board agreed to try the project for one year, along with the help of our DPW under Superintendent Joe Perry. A lucky night for getting permission to do this honorable project for one year and since Tom Rivers was in the audience—he did a feature article for “Orleans Hub” about the project itself.
The Medina Hometown Hero Banner project attracted 38 sponsors for the first year of the Medina HHB project. I was in “heaven” and deeply excited about the banners. The total project began when I was motivated by the Alfred project and the admiration I had always had for my father-in-law, Willis Burr Woodruff. This initial year would be completed in not only all the veterans featured in 2019, but also for the memory of a fine man nicknamed “Burr”.
The 2019 banners were special in many ways. One tradition I had hoped to feature began with this group of veterans by a Private Showing at the YMCA/Armory building. Sponsors and families were invited to attend the official display of the banner they purchased. Up close and personal was the motto of the day as families gathered around their family member featured on the banner taking family photos with the banner proudly displayed beside or behind them. Unfortunately, this tradition lasted one year. As COVID 2020 limited any gatherings for such purposes as mentioned above the banners made their debut on assigned poles on Main Street and surrounding streets for all to see.
The Village Board was very pleased with the outcome of the 2019 Medina HHB project and agreed to allowing the 2020 campaign with the help of the late Joe Perry and the DPW. This campaign was sponsored by 69 banners purchases and the desire for more was limited due to a campaign time limit. The new Medina Hometown Hero banners went on display prior to Memorial Day, 2020. The 2019 banners were displayed in secondary locations since the new banners took the featured locations. Due to COVID 19 a Memorial Day parade was not allowed where the banners would be part of the featured holiday program. Pat Dool, a former native of Medina worked with the photos I supplied as he assembled a great video of the Medina Mustang Band 1960 marching in the parade. He then featured each 2019 and 2020 Medina Hometown Hero individually in the video featured below.
A total of 107 Medina Hometown Heroes Banners were featured in 2020 despite the COVID 19 as Jason Watts took command of the display and would then coordinate the banners removal following Veterans Day. Each banner was washed, dried, and carefully stored for the winter. So much gratitude is in my heart for the Medina Village Board and the DPW members. Sadly, Joe Perry passed in December 2020. He was a good man to work with and being a veteran himself, he always admired the results of the banner campaigns.
Jason Watts was appointed as our Superintendent of the DPW following Joe’s passing. Jason proved his dedication to this program when in 2021 following the Medina Hometown Heroes Banners campaign (you guessed it, our Board agreed to continue to project) and the total number of banners sponsored was a 132. Again, no special unveiling due to COVID 19. Jason and his department members worked hard for close to three weeks to display not only the 132 banners of 2021, but also the 2020 and 2019 banners. A grand total of 339 Hometown banners are presently displayed on the major streets of the village and a few side streets. What a feat! Once again, there was not an official parade due to COVID 19. Working with Ken Daluisio, owner of The Print Shop, we were able to provide instrumental music on Main Street during Memorial Day weekend. Many patriotic tunes were enjoyed by those strolling the streets observing our Hometown Heroes.
This has been a goal of mine fulfilled by not only my hard work but the hard work of my family members, friends, and of course the Village Board, Jason Watts, and the DPW and our Village Clerk Debbie Padoleski. The support from sponsors and people in general has been heartwarming and motivating to continue on.
The 2022 Medina Hometown Hero Banner Campaign will begin at the end of August, 2021. That is IF I have the permission of our Honorable Mike Sidari and Village Trustees…and Jason Watts, of course!
Seriously when I think of this excellent program that includes all US Armed Force veterans and present soldiers that have earned the honorable discharge or present honorable standing…I am overwhelmed with a feeling of community pride. Among the banners are our unsung heroes that never made it home and for them upon completion of each campaign I can only say one thing,” We brought them back home and here they proudly decorate our village streets”.
2022 will bring our new website, more banners, digital photos, and some added features to the program itself which you may all like.
Meanwhile, thank you all for your support, encouragement, and constant positive feedback.
With great appreciation and a heart filled with joy I thank you and I am thrilled to bring our soldiers back home.
Director of Medina Hometown Hero Banner Project