HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. – A Hendricks County program to honor military veterans and active service members will likely expand into more communities, possibly beyond county lines next year.
Rhonda Beck serves as Service for Veterans Committee chair for the Wa-Pe-Ke-Way Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. She says the response to the program has been huge since 108 personalized banners went up in Brownsburg, Danville, Avon and Plainfield on Memorial Day.
“Phones started ringing, emails coming, texts,” Beck said. “People were seeing them and then contacting the person who purchased the banner and asking them how to do it.”
The banners are a way for Hendricks County families to share their family’s history of military service or recognize an active military member in their family. The banners display their photo, branch of service, and conflict in which they served, if any.
Currently, banners line Main Street in Brownsburg and go the entire length of the town. The Danville banners are on town square; in Plainfield, they reside along Highway 40, and the Avon banners can be found at roundabouts.
The next round of banners may require a couple of city blocks for the Waggoner family to display their family military history. Between 1942 and 1982, nine members of the Waggoner family have served in uniform. Pam Waggoner says the service started with her father and his four brothers in the World War 2 era, almost like a real-life “Saving Private Ryan” scenario.
“Their mother, our grandmother, wrote a letter to each and every one of them every day,” Pam Waggoner said. “That’s a lot of letters and a lot of love to keep them going.”
Pam and her family are looking forward to joining the countywide display next year.
“It’s going to be a very emotional time, a lot of pride,” Pam said. “I think that they are real symbols of patriotism, of love of country, and of a commitment to something greater than yourself.”
Retired Army Colonel, Danny Nelson, who serves as Chaplain at the Brownsburg American Legion Post, is looking forward to having his own banner go up next year. He especially looks forward to seeing it displayed next to the banner for his son, Major Brent Nelson, who is currently serving with the Indiana Army National Guard.
“I’m very proud to be an American, and I’m even prouder yet to be a veteran,” the elder Nelson said. “We’re free to do the things that we do because of the men and women that have sacrificed so much, and many of them the ultimate sacrifice of their life.”
The banners currently on display will stay up until Memorial Day next year. At that point, the banners will go home with the family who purchased them. That’s when the next round of banners, which are being requested now, will go up. Beck says the banners may expand into as many as 8 communities next year.
“This just tells you the pride that people have in their family that have served,” Beck said.
Beck also says she’s currently in talks with groups in other Indiana counties who are interested in the program.
“It’s just a good feeling and so heartwarming because it means so much to so many that their loved ones have not been forgotten,” Beck said. “And the ones that are still living, that their sacrifices and commitment to our country have not been forgotten.”