Applications are being accepted for the inaugural display of Military Hometown Heroes street banners, to be featured in Downtown Topeka from Sept. 11 to Nov. 11, 2017.

Topeka’s Military Hometown Heroes banner program connects the Capital City with other communities in Kansas and across the nation in creating a vibrant tribute for our neighbors who are serving, or have served in the armed forces of the United States.

“This is good for Topeka. It’s a win-win for all of us,” said Scott Gales, president of the Military Relations Council of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “The banners will create a sense of familiarity. These heroes are our neighbors, friends and relatives.”

Spearheaded by the Military Veteran Project, the banner program also is made possible with support from the Military Relations Council, Visit Topeka and Downtown Topeka, Inc.

“"We wanted to give our community a way to honor and pay tribute to our local veterans and giving loved ones a way to show their appreciation for their veterans service through the Military Hometown Heroes of Topeka,” said Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Military Veteran Project, a volunteer-driven nonprofit focused on prevention of military suicide through research and treatment. MVP is based in Topeka. “We are happy to be able to partner with Downtown Topeka Inc, chamber of commerce and Visit Topeka on this community project.”

Each 24” by 72” banner includes a portrait of the service member, their name, rank, branch of service and a white, blue or gold star to signify an honorably discharged veteran, a currently serving service member, or those who died in the line of duty, respectively. The honoree must be or have been a Topeka resident.

The first 68 banners will appear on Kansas Avenue in Downtown Topeka between Patriot Day and Veterans Day. The program may be expanded to other areas of the community. Each banner will cost approximately $200, including production, installation and removal. The fee can be paid at the time of application. Donations also are being accepted by the Military Veterans Project.

One of those banners will feature Army National Guard LTC Anthony “Tony” Randall. His wife, Jenalea Randall, is a member of the Military Relations Council and spoke about the program this week. Recognition of Topeka’s Hometown Heroes will remind all of us that our freedom requires action, she said.

In the case of LTC Randall, who served stateside after Hurricane Katrina and earned a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, recognizing him with a banner will allow his friends and family to remember his love and commitment – to each of them and his country. LTC Randall was serving as Chief Environmental Officer for the Kansas Army National Guard when he died of brain cancer in 2014.

“Each community has their own approach to this,” Randall said of recognition for veterans and active service members. “I’m glad we will be able to honor Tony and his service in a way Topekans can see.”  

Learn more about the Military Hometown Heroes Banner Program, including the application and release forms, guidelines and sponsorship information by visiting http://bit.ly/MVPBanner.

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The Military Relations Council is a program of The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. More information about the Chamber can be found at http://topekachamber.org.