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Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes

“Honoring Sacrifice”

By Kathleen Knowles

In the long and proud history of the United States, it has been the Armed Forces members who have been responsible for the American people to live in freedom. In November 2018, Blue Water Healthy Living honored veterans for their sacrifice.

There is another group of soldiers, sailors, airman and marines that should never be forgotten by any of us …… our Fallen Heroes. Thousands of members of our Armed Forces never returned from the wars in which they were sent to defend freedom. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. It would be remiss and an injustice to forget them. A group of volunteers have taken on a project to honor their service.

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The Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes is a community banner program to recognize and honor over five-hundred-fifty military service members killed in action from World War I to the current conflict. All must have resided in cities, townships and villages across St. Clair County.

Banners in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

Ed Weichsler, who is a veteran, was traveling through Waynesboro, Pennsylvania with his brother one week after Memorial Day. Posters were on display throughout the downtown area honoring their local Fallen Heroes. Mr. Weichsler was in awe. His immediate thought was, “We need to be doing this.” It was the inspiration that brought the program to the Blue Water Area. He began working with Nancy Deising of the St. Clair County Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The VA Office reached out to the Saint Clair County Allied Veterans Council to help with planning in order to get the program off the ground.

After working on it for over a year, it was time to make it public. The Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Community Banner Program was announced on Veteran’s Day in November of this past year.

Nancy Deising, an advisor who heads the program, explained how the process progressed. “We began by taking the names from the monuments at Pine Grove Park and Memorial Stadium at Port Huron High School. The list of service members helped begin the process of reaching out to the families or anyone who might have knowledge of these members killed in action. It was done through posting on all the pages of Facebook and word of mouth. A hotline was set up to handle the flurry of phone calls in which people could leave messages. From these messages, we then set up a meeting with the families.”

Part 1……………

The first part of the program is securing the photographs of the service members for the banners. If families cannot provide a photograph, then the military seal will be used in its place. A high school photograph can also be used. Once, Mr. Weischler receives a photo, it is scanned by a commercial scanner and will be kept on a computer until such time the banners are printed.

The banners of each member will include a picture, the branch of the service they were in, their rank, the conflict they participated in and the city they resided. Each banner will be approximately three and 1/2 to four feet tall and two feet wide. Once completed, they will be placed in the cities, townships and villages where each Fallen Hero lived. The plan is to fly them on light poles. Mr. Weischler said the banners would fly a week before Memorial Day and remain on the poles through the following week.

The desire is to have them placed on the main street of each community, township and village. If there is not enough physical space, then the next step would be to place them wherever there are memorials, parks and monuments. It will be left up to the cities and townships to make some of those decisions.

Once they have 300 banners, they will have enough to put up across the county. The goal is to have them up by a week before Memorial Day of 2021. If 300 banners are secured before then, it is possible it could happen sooner. The time frame is up to the public. It will not stop there. Aspirations are to continue and collect as many as 500 banners. With the help of the families of the fallen, every known Fallen Hero will be honored.

All banners will go up in each community at the same time and come down together as well. It is intended to be a yearly event to honor the sacrifice of those who never returned from the war.

How will a loved one know where to find the banner of their Fallen Hero? Ms. Deising explained a “map” will be created to give the exact location of each banner so the family members can locate their honored hero.

Part 2 ……………..

When meeting with the families, stories they share are being documented which will hopefully lead to the second part of the project. A publication is planned with the biographies of those whose families are willing to provide the information. Mr. Weischler shared one such story about a young man from Smiths Creek who attempted to sign up for the service, but was turned down due to his age. He hijacked his older brother’s identification and entered the service. Four months later a chaplain and a major showed up at his parents’ door to pass the bad news that their son had been killed in action. They found out at that time what had happened to their son who had disappeared four months earlier.

Presently……….

This project is one which, hopefully, will follow up the banner project in another tribute to the Fallen Heroes of St. Clair County. Right now, however, they are concentrating strictly on the Banner Program. The process at this time is to find the families of the Fallen Heroes and collect their photos as well as the information to be displayed on the banners. Those families in St. Clair County who have a Fallen Hero beginning with World War I to the current conflict, and are interested in honoring their hero, can contact the hotline at 810-985-2007.

Those who would like to help with the project can go to the Pine Grove Park War Memorial and take pictures of the names. (be sure to write down the war) When conversing with others, if a last name matching one on the memorial pops up, tell them about the project. It just might be possible that they too have a Fallen Hero in their family.

It is the intent of Blue Water Healthy Living to support this project to the fullest. We can’t think of a better way to honor those in our community who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We encourage all those in St. Clair County to get involved with this very worthy project. Below is contact information for all those who are interested in honoring our Fallen Heroes.


Those who want their Fallen Hero honored with a banner, contact the hotline:

810-985-2007

A meeting will be set up.


Citizens who would like to donate for the project can send a check to:

Community Foundation St. Clair County

500 Water St.

Port Huron, MI 48060

Don’t forget to put Community Banner Project on the memo line!


For information regarding the project, email Nancy Deising at:

ndeising@stclaircounty.org


Check back with Blue Water Healthy Living for monthly updates on this very worthy program!

Kathleen Knowles

Contributing Writer

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Kathleen Knowles is a life-long resident of Port Huron and a 1973 graduate of Port Huron High School. After attending St. Clair County Community College, she has worked for credit unions all of her life as well as a professional dog show handler, known for handling Pekingese. Kathleen has been writing fiction for years as a hobby, having posted many stories online.

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Disclaimer: Blue Water Healthy Living is an online magazine located in Port Huron, Michigan. Our purpose is to promote healthy living by showcasing the Blue Water Area, its people, issues and surroundings. This online magazine is devoted to providing healthy living related stories, local happenings, and commentary. Often inspiring and uplifting, our stories come from our heart and soul to promote the enjoyment of a more fulfilling Blue Water Area lifestyle. The material on this web site is provided for informational and amusement purposes only and is not to be confused with any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of Blue Water Healthy Living.

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