Debut follows months of discussion
Banners honoring military personnel are expected to hang along state roads in Philipstown by Memorial Day (May 29), following months of discussion by elected officials and residents and a proliferation of similar signs in nearby communities, including Beacon.
“They’re everywhere, and we didn’t have a program,” Cindy Trimble, who coordinated the Philipstown banners project, said on Wednesday (May 17). The banners will stay up until shortly after Veterans Day (Nov. 11), she said.
Trimble’s group, Philipstown Hometown Heroes Military Tribute Banners, plans to launch its project on May 27 at the American Legion in Cold Spring with remarks by elected officials.
The banners cost $250 each, which is paid by families or others interested in honoring “veterans, active-duty, reserve and National Guard members,” according to the Philipstown Hometown Heroes website.
“It’s a wonderful program,” said Philipstown Supervisor John Van Tassel when Trimble brought the idea to the Town Board last year. “I can’t wait to get one for my father.”
Trimble said that 75 banners will be installed on utility poles along stretches of Route 9 and Route 9D. The group prefers state roads, she said, because “there’s more exposure and visibility.” Because the banners will hang on state roads and outside the boundaries of Cold Spring and Nelsonville, the group also did not need village or town permits.
Under a New York State Department of Transportation policy, banners can be placed on a state highway with a permit issued to a municipality or nonprofit organization.
In this case, because Philipstown Hometown Heroes is a private business, Putnam County is the official sponsor and the licensee in an agreement with Central Hudson and Verizon, which own the poles, said Christopher Formisano, the communications director for the county executive. Workers from the county Highways and Facilities Department will install the banners, he said.
The Philipstown Hometown Heroes banners cost twice as much as those in Beacon, where the nonprofit Daughters of the American Revolution oversees the program. When Trimble spoke to the Cold Spring Village Board in December, Mayor Kathleen Foley questioned the difference. Trimble said prices vary based on size and pledged that any profits would be donated to local veterans’ groups.
At the meeting, a Garrison resident also voiced concern that only those with $250 to spare could participate in the banner program.
Two months later, more questions surfaced at the Philipstown Town Board. Eliza Starbuck, a Village Board member, noted that, without a contract between a local government and the private Philipstown Hometown Heroes, there would be no oversight of the finances.
Other questions arose about how long the banners would fly. The Philipstown Town Board said it didn’t think the banners should fly year-round, and a petition that circulated in Philipstown last summer urged limiting the exhibition to two weeks.
“Displaying banners with images of local veterans would be a poignant way of showing our community’s deep appreciation for their service,” it said. “However, displaying such banners continuously for months would have the opposite effect,” ceasing to generate interest, while the banners get “noticeably degraded” by weather. It also questioned the price of the banners.
In remarks to the Town Board in February, Starbuck cited Philipstown’s restrictions on flag-flying on town property and suggested banners required comparable treatment.
She said that those wishing to honor service members “have every right to purchase their private banners and fly them on their front porches or in their front yards. But I don’t know that it’s the most appropriate thing for private individuals to pick and choose who should be honored on poles along our roadways.”
Yet, Starbuck also emphasized, that “first and foremost,” even among skeptics, “there have been no disagreements regarding the position that veterans and military service people deserve our support, our respect and our gratitude.”
On Wednesday, Trimble said that “everybody’s been tremendously supportive” of the project. Further, she said, being able to hang 75 banners seems “amazingly impressive” for a first year. “I’m really happy with the results.”
She said the elected officials from the county scheduled to participate in the May 27 kick-off include Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, District Attorney Bob Tendy, Clerk Michael Bartolotti and Sheriff Kevin McConville, along with Van Tassel; Rep. Mike Lawler, whose U.S. House district includes Philipstown; and state Sen. Rob Rolison and state Assembly Member Dana Levenberg, whose districts include Philipstown.
I would like to thank Cindy Trimble for all of her hard work to make this happen. I am looking forward to the kick-off and seeing my late husband’s banner flying high. A huge thank you to all of our veterans.
I’m pleased that this worthwhile military tribute banner project is progressing. As I drive across the eastern part of Putnam County every week, I always enjoy looking at these eye-catching, attractive banners. Not only do they honor military service, but they also serve to promote and celebrate local history. As a writer, educator and Hudson Valley native, I am in favor of using different ways to spark interest in the people and places around us. For example, two banners for members of the Tompkins family are strategically located on Route 301 in Kent across from Tompkins Road. While reflecting the past, these banners also shed light on the present by providing context for things like local street names. In my view, this is an added bonus.
These banners are a wonderful reminder of the importance that places such as Beacon, Fishkill and Putnam and Dutchess counties played in the defense of this nation and the free world. [via Instagram]
Capollari is chair of the Dutchess County Veterans Affairs Committee.
Special thanks to the Trimble family for generations of service to this country.