LOCK HAVEN - If every picture tells a story, then the 350 photos that are a part of Downtown Lock Haven Inc.'s Hometown Hero Banner Program tell of the epic journey of several hundred veterans from the area. From the Civil War to peace time to the Global War on Terror, each story is very personal and unique. And yet these photos also represent a unified group of people, over decades, who have shared the same devotion to their country, to their community and to their families. "Each community has a memorial to those who have served, to those who have fallen; these are their faces," Clinton County Veteran Affairs Director Dave Bower said as he looked at a photo collage of "hometown heroes," which he described as "a portrait of service by our citizens." "We have always celebrated individual service," he added, "but this project brings all our communities together for a collective tribute that is long overdue." The collage, which includes all of the photos of local veterans submitted by family and friends for the Hometown Heroes banners program, will be made available to the public at a special price. On Saturday, May 3, these same faces of 350 hometown heroes, just a small representation of the thousands of Clinton County veterans who have served our country, will be unveiled on banners. Most of the photos are of veterans from Clinton County; others are from surrounding communities, though typically with some connection to Clinton County. The banners will be located on the street light poles on Main, Vesper, Grove and Jay Streets and all along the entire river walk in downtown Lock Haven. The Hometown Hero Committee is seeking sponsors. With just the month of March left to raise the balance of the funds needed to buy the banners and install them, a small core group of volunteers is contacting potential sponsors to support this program. "We are half way there," Downtown Manager Maria Boileau said. "We need the community to help make this vision a reality." "I don't think anyone wants to miss this opportunity," Downtown Lock Haven Inc. Board President and Hometown Hero committee member Gail Nestlerode said. "We are honoring OUR veterans; I am really excited about the event in May because it is not a solemn event, it is a celebration." "It is more than a fundraiser," said Hometown Hero committee member Julie Brennan. "This is such a worthwhile initiative. It is something that we have never seen before." "From Loganton to Beech Creek to Renovo, all of our communities have been touched and affected by the military service of our grandparents, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers" said Bower. "Our communities, large and small, are united by the common bond of service that these individuals represent. The photos are a mosaic history of dedication and sacrifice by our men and women that evoke pride in their selfless service." "I want nothing more than for the Hometown Hero Celebration to be an event that will unify our community," said Krisy Meeker, a member of both the Downtown Lock Haven board and Hometown Hero committee. "I just really hope that everyone embraces this program because it is something very special." While the committee cannot accept any more photos to be included in this year's banner program, with the help of the Rotary Club of Downtown Lock Haven it is working to develop a Hometown Hero Celebration to honor all veterans. Starting with a ceremony in Triangle Park and including displays, a mural, mementos, music, entertainment and refreshments, the Hometown Hero Celebration will be an opportunity for generations of families and friends from Clinton County and surrounding communities to celebrate our Veterans. The Hometown Hero Committee needs your help to include each one of these photos on a banner. Sponsorships are just $200 and each banner will include the sponsor's name, though donations in any amount are accepted. "The deadline to obtain all 350 sponsors is fast approaching," explains Nestlerode. "We really need everyone to help with the sponsorships. If you were thinking about donating and just have not had the time to make the commitment, please give us a call." Boileau explained that families, individuals, service organizations and businesses have sponsored banners so far. "Some of the sponsorships are personal commitments for a family member and others are businesses interested in seeing this project come to fruition. We are grateful for all of the support. The funds raised will pay for the banners, hardware and installation. A portion of the proceeds will be reserved to maintain the banners throughout the year and a portion will be donated to the Clinton County Veteran Affairs Office to be used for discretionary expenses needed for Veterans in Clinton County," she said. The Hometown Hero photo collage will be made available to the community to help with the costs of the program. A framed 16x 20-inch poster can be purchased for $25. An unframed 13x19-inch poster is $15. To order either, call Boileau at 748-1576. The collages will also be available for sale during the Hometown Heroes Celebration on May 3.
Clint Hinton, intern at the Veterans Affairs office, holds a copy of the framed mosaic containing the photos of 350 local veterans. Downtown Lock Haven Inc. is selling copies of the mosaic to raise money for the Hometown Heroes banner program.
BILL CROWELL/THE EXPRESS
YOUCANHELP Buy a copy of the mosaic by calling Downtown Lock Haven Inc. at 748-1576. A framed 16x20-inch poster can be ordered for $25 or you can buy an unframed 13x19-inch copy for $15.