For two weeks of the year surrounding Memorial Day, main streets across St. Clair County are filled with banners honoring local veterans who died in service to our country. Held at the Community Foundation, the Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Banner Program Fund supports an ongoing initiative to honor our community’s fallen for generations to come and is one example of how smaller, more consistent philanthropic gifts can sustain a program.
“In addition to honoring our county’s fallen heroes, the banner program brings our community together and offers the families and friends of these service members a meaningful way to remember their loved ones,” said Lindsey Adams-Fitchett, vice chair of the Community Foundation Grants Committee.
Established in 2018, the Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Banner Program Fund is largely supported by members of the community. Small but consistent giving to an endowed fund can make a significant impact that is equally important to one-time large gifts and help ensure the sustainability of initiatives like the banner program.
“The smartest move we ever made initially was to approach the Community Foundation,” said Ed Weichsler, program advisor and U.S. Air Force veteran. “We were all volunteers, we didn’t want to handle money. We wanted the public’s trust and confidence that the project will outlive us all. Fifty to 100 years from now, we want it to still go on.”
The community banners highlight about 600 former St. Clair County service members who died in service since World War I (WWI). Featuring their photograph, name, age, rank, city of residence, war conflict and branch of service, the banners will hang the week leading up to and following Memorial Day on Monday, May 30.
“We can’t bring them back to life, but if we can bring their likeness back to the main street of the town they grew up in every year, if we can do this for those who never came home, imagine what we can do for those who did,” Weichsler said.
To support the fund or learn more about the program, visit stclairfoundation.org/fund/blue-water-area-fallen-heroes-community-banner-program.
If you know a St. Clair County service member who died in service to their country, please call the Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Community Banner Program message line at (810) 985-2007 or contact Ed Weichsler at email@example.com.