Local organization seeks photos of area service members
By Jim Bloch
The city of Marysville will display banners of residents who lost their lives during any conflict in service to their country, World War I to the present. The banners will hang from light poles in the city one week before and one week after Memorial Day.
Each banner will feature the photograph of a fallen hero, his or her rank, age, branch of service, war and hometown.
The effort is officially known as the Blue Water Area Fallen Heroes Community Banner Program.
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In July, Rick Semrow, president of St. Clair County Veterans Council and commander of J. Edgar Mallory Post 449 American Legion in Marysville, asked the city officials for permission to fly the banners and for the department of public work’s help in putting up and taking down the banners.
Two weeks later, on July 22, the city council formally approved the effort by unanimous vote.
“The city looked into the program and recommends becoming part of it,” said City Manager Randy Fernandez.
“Right now we’re in the process of collecting photos,” said Semrow. “We have 189 photos out 565 (countywide).”
The soldier must have lost his or her life “on the battlefield or from a battlefield injury,” Semrow said.
In Marysville, 13 soldiers lost their lives in U.S. wars from WWI to the present. So far, the legion hall has four photos for banners: Robert LaGruth, WWII; Edward Bromley, Vietnam; Michael Loughren, Vietnam; and William VonBrockdorff, WWII.
Semrow is still looking for the photos of two Marysville soldiers killed in Korea, Elmer Baldock and Donald Merrithew, and seven killed in WWII: Edgar Baird, Jack Groat, Roy Jones, Calvin Moultin, Donald MacPherson, Orville Thomas and Carl F. Williams.
If you have a photo of one of these men, call (810) 985-2007 or email email@example.com.
With a possible 13 banners, Semrow said he would like to see them mounted to light stanchions along Huron Avenue on both approaches to the Legion hall.
Semrow estimated that each banner will cost $100-150 apiece.
“The Legion will store the banners,” said Semrow.
“This seems like one of the most worthwhile projects we’ve seen from a private organization,” said Mayor Dan Damman.
The Community Foundation of St. Clair County manages a fund on behalf of the Community Banner Program.
Residents may donate to the effort by mailing a check to Community Foundation of St. Clair County, Banner Program Fund, 500 Water Street, Port Huron MI 48600 or by making an online contribution at www.sccvet.us/banners.
“The Community Foundation is handling all of the money for the project,” said Semrow.
“They’re very beautiful,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Hayman of the banners.
Jim Bloch is an award-winning freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. He writes about the environment, local politics, art, music, history and culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.