Banners honoring military service going up in Pike

Milford. Hometown Hero banner applications will be accepted on two Saturdays in September. Banners are going up now in Matamoras and Westfall, with Milford's banners to be installed before Memorial Day 2020.

| 27 Aug 2019 | 06:06

One hundred and fifty banners recognizing the service of local residents who have served in the military will be hung from utility poles in Pike County.

Matamoras Mayor Janet Clark said her town, which she characterized as "the gateway to Pike," told the county commissioners at their Aug. 21 meeting will start things off.

A group calling itself the "6 Navy Moms" is spearheading the effort. Tom Ryan and Allan Schatz, members of VetStock, presented a check for $5,000 to the Navy Moms to pay for the mounting brackets. VetStock is nonprofit organization whose mission is "to raise funds in order to support those veteran organizations that have not developed strong local fundraising capabilities in both Pike and Monroe counties and the greater Northeast PA region."

Navy Mom Geri McKinney asked for the commissioners' blessing to go ahead with their project. The banners will rise in a few days, weather permitting, she said. Navy Mom Tammy Savarese told the Courier on Wednesday that banners were already up at the Delaware Valley schools.

Colin Smith of Remark Printing in Middletown, N.Y., is producing the banners at cost. He is also making a tee shirt that will be showcased before the holidays.

Milford's banners to go up in 2020

Milford has its own timetable for the banners, which will go up around the borough before Memorial Day 2020. At 22 by 33 inches, they will be smaller than the banners in Matamoras and Westfall.

"The design will be identical to the others except we haven’t had ours fabricated yet," Mayor Sean Strub wrote in an email to the Courier.

The unfurling of Milford's banners will be attended by a reception honoring local veterans. A walking tour and brochure of the banner program will be available at that time, and will also highlight related artifacts in the Columns Museum's collection.

Strub said the borough council looked at banner programs in more than 40 communities across Pennsylvania to see what they've done "in terms of size, qualifications for being on a banner, tenure of display, etc."

"The Hometown Heroes program in Westfall and Milford Township, we were told, is using a 30-inch by 60-inch banner," he said. "We didn't find any other community in Pennsylvania using that large of a size, only one in New York State and in Texas. There could be others, but we didn't find them in our research."

The council narrowed the borough's options to three sizes — 20 by 30 inches, 22 by 33 inches, or 24 by 36 inches -- "and ultimately decided to go with the one in the middle," said Strub.

Another difference is that Matamoras and Westfall will be leaving their banners up continuously two years. Strub said most communities put them up seasonally. He'd read news reports about banners becoming worn and tattered from long exposure to the elements.

"So the Milford Borough Council opted for a longer period -- three years -- but only display them from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, which is consistent with most other communities," he said.

The Navy Moms told the borough council that the larger size was intended for the "three-lane" -- Routes 6 and 209 going out of the borough -- and understood if the council wanted a smaller size in Milford's historic district, said Strub.

In addition, he said, the council wanted to make sure the banners in the district were either from Milford or have a direct historical connection to Milford.

How to apply

Applications for the Delaware Valley School District Area Hometown Hero Banner will only accepted in person at Pike County Chamber of Commerce's Visitor Center, 201 Broad St., Milford, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on two Saturdays, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14. Future dates will be announced.

Applicants supply the banner photo showing the featured service person in uniform. All branches of service are eligible, whether veterans or active duty. The honoree must at one time have lived in the Delaware Valley School District Area. For more information join the DVSD Area Hometown Hero Banner Program Facebook page.

Information is also available by emailing or visiting the U.S. Navy Moms on Facebook:

The $100 cost includes the banner, installation, and removal. All checks should be made payable to DV 2000 Educational Foundation.

Mail donations to Chris Lordi, 236 Routes 6 and 209, Milford PA 18337. Those who give more than $250 will receive a donation letter. If less than $250, a canceled check will serve for tax purposes.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to omit information about a banner parade in Matamoras, for which there are no plans at this time.

The mayor's suggestions for a few of Milford's banners:
Sonia Gatzke, believed to be the first woman to command a VFW post
Milton Bailey, the first Pike County resident killed in the Korean War
Abraham Davis, a member of the United States Colored Troops serving during the Civil War whose widow bought a house in Milford with his pension
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct Bailey's first name.