The Lower Southampton Township Administration Building surely reached its maximum capacity of 75 on the evening of Wednesday, June 12. By the start of the bi-monthly board of supervisors meeting, it was standing-room-only.
But most locals weren’t in attendance to hear about zoning plans and budget proposals. They were present to honor late loved ones as part of the township’s all-new Hometown Heroes program.
Through this initiative, families can purchase banners emblazoned with the name, title and picture of an Armed Forces member. The first batch of 34 banners were recently hung along Bustleton Pike from the Buck Hotel down toward County Line Road, where they will be proudly displayed for passersby through Veterans Day and stored for safekeeping during the winter months.
According to chairman Ray Weldie, this program has been a long time in the making.
“Over the past few years, even before I was involved in politics, there had been suggestions that were brought up on how to honor our hometown heroes, the veterans that have served and lived here over the years with some hometown heroes banners that we could hang from local street poles,” Weldie said.
The idea was brought up again last fall by secretary/treasurer Kim Koutsouradis and, after board member Keith Wesley found a location in Allentown that manufactured these types of banners, it officially began to take shape.
“We got the ball rolling in January 2019, contacted that vendor, worked out the specifics on how much the banners and the hardware would cost, started advertising and took orders for the banners,” said Weldie. “The banners have been erected. We wanted them up as close to Memorial Day as possible. They look fantastic. It gives our town a hometown look and it helps honor, to every person who passes by on Bustleton Pike, those great heroes that served and lived in our township over the years.”
The ceremony began with a chilling rendition of the national anthem by Lower Southampton Fire Department member Emily McGonigle. Then, Koutsouradis, Wesley and board member Deborah Kaplan took the floor with certificates (provided by Rep. Frank Farry) and flowers, which were given to the families/sponsors of the Hometown Heroes.
Weldie read the names of each servicemember during a slide show presentation: Sgt. Claude Adams, Sgt. Richard C. Adams, Fireman First Class Curtis Alvin Brandenburger and Cpl. Fred Donald Eisemann (father-in-law and son-in-law, respectively), PFC Robert Bromley, Harry W. Busch, Cpl. Earl F. Bushey and Sgt. Earl S. Bushey (father and son), Joseph A. Cannon Jr., Frederick Francis Carr, Cpl. Frank J. Cartolaro, Lt. Richard J. Crosbie, Capt. Eleanor Bauman Fisher, Sgt. Archibald Richie Gray, John Haegele and C. Ray Minger, Carol Jaskovich, George J. Leigh, Cpl. James P. Longaker, Ensign Sarah Joy Mitchell, Staff Sgt. Jae S. Moon (a Neshaminy High School graduate who was killed on Christmas Day in 2006), PFC Edward T. Moran, Capt. Stan Roscoe and 2nd Lt. Virginia Van Dyke Roscoe (husband and wife), Joseph. J. Schickling, PFC Henry O. Sonntag Jr., Sgt. Adam A. Stack, Sgt. David Wilson String, Sgt. Earle “Mickey” Theobold, ADC Anthony “Tony” Valerio and Cpl. William D. Wagenmann.
“The banners are a tribute to you and all of your family members that served in the military,” Weldie said. “I’m a veteran and we all appreciate their service. They gave their lives for the freedom of our country, and this would not have been possible without all of you stepping forward and participating in this program to make this town the great town that it is.”
The chairman thanked the township’s administrative secretary, Christina Lynn, whom he credited for organizing the Hometown Heroes program. According to Weldie, Lynn met with the families, scanned the pictures, placed the orders and took charge of the entire logistical aspect.
Lynn stressed that Hometown Heroes is an ongoing project and far from over. If a family or business is interested in sponsoring a banner, they should contact the township at email@example.com or call her at 215-357-7300, Ext. 305.
Information needed is the Armed Forces member’s name, rank, years of service, branch of the military, conflict they served in (WWII, Vietnam, etc.), and the name of the sponsor. Cost is $134, which includes the banner and the hardware required to hang the banner. Lynn also needs a picture sent as a JPEG file. This can be emailed or, for those who don’t have access to a scanner, dropped off at the Administration Building (1500 Desire Ave.) and Lynn will do it for them.
To qualify for a banner, individuals must meet two criteria – they are deceased (did not have to be killed in the line of duty, just served) and were once a resident of the township.
Since the first 34 banners were hung, Lynn said she has already received three additional orders.
“It won’t be long until we need to start hanging the banners along Street Road,” she said. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org