Soon you’ll find many main streets throughout St. Clair County lined with beautiful banners honoring locals who have died in the line of service since World War I (WWI). The Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Community Banner Project has added hundreds of new banners and is going strong in its third year since launching the program.
For the three weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the community banners will pay tribute to over 400 fallen heroes by displaying their photograph, name, rank, branch of service, war served in, age and city they were from. Port Huron and St. Clair are the two cities with the largest number of losses, so those banners will feature two different individuals, one on the front and another on the back, to ensure recognition for all those lost from those communities.
Ed Weichsler, program advisor and U.S. Air Force veteran, currently oversees the program and creates an opportunity to connect with the loved ones of the fallen. “Do you know you’re the first person in decades to say his/her name?” This is something he’s heard countless times from family members, but says it always has the same profound impact on him. “And all we do is keep a promise; we leave no one behind,” Weichsler said.
The idea behind the banners is not just to honor those who passed, but to also create a touching remembrance for those directly affected by the loss and a renewed sense of pride within the community as a whole.
Nearly $68,000 has been raised to support the program, which organizers hope will go on as Memorial Day approaches. The funds are used to purchase each banner, for the equipment to scan and store the photos, and now to create and maintain the website that will have the searchable information about local fallen heroes available all year long.
“A significant portion of the success of this project has to be given to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County,” Weichsler said. “We needed a financial institution that was well known throughout the county. There’s only one in this county and it’s always been the Community Foundation.”
St. Clair County has approximately 660 fallen heroes, with 426 photos scanned for banners currently. Since last year’s Memorial Day, 46 new photos came in, but there’s still over 200 to go in order to honor all of those fallen heroes.
Weichsler hopes to have the Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Community Banner Project website up and running for the public by Memorial Day. You’ll be able to see a list of names for those they’re still in search of photos for, organized by the city, township or village they lived in.
If you know a St. Clair County service member who died in the line of duty, please visit www.bluewaterareafallenheros.com. You may also contact the Blue Water Area Heroes Community Banner Program at (810) 985-2007 or contact Weichsler directly at [email protected].
To support the banner fund or learn more about the program click here.