SOLEDAD — Veterans and active duty military personnel are being sought for a banner program that will feature the pictures of local servicemen and women along Front Street in Soledad.
The first set of banners will be unveiled beginning in early November, with more personnel to be recognized as the banners rotate and more families are contacted.
Soledad Military Banner Group is organizing the project, with its membership consisting of Mayor Fred Ledesma, City Manager Brent Slama, Police Chief Damon Wasson, Assistant Chief Fred Lombardi and multiple members from the Soledad Post 32 of the American Legion.
“This Soledad banner program is the first of its kind in Monterey County,” said Tony Virrueta, one of the group’s organizers. “It is a really good step forward what Soledad is doing by setting the example and leading the way. We also hope that it inspires other cities. Every city has veterans that deserve recognition.”
The group is working on finding active and former military members who either grew up in Soledad or currently live in the area. American Legion and the Soledad High School NJROTC program has helped in this quest.
So far, the group has found 50 veterans and active personnel who would like to have a banner.
The only thing being asked of the families is a quality photo of the person in question so they can be scanned and printed on the banners. The costs in producing the banners are being handled by the group and sponsors.
Virrueta said the group didn’t want to hit families with the bill, as the project will cost in the thousands of dollars to produce so many banners. For that reason, they have sought local companies to help cover the costs and are currently accepting donations.
“Once these go up, we will have missed some people,” said Virrueta, adding that more families will likely get in touch with the group afterward. “We’re going to need those additional funds.”
Virrueta said city leaders have wanted to do a recognition project and were inspired by the city of Turlock, which started a military banner program.
The Soledad project began two and a half months ago and will soon be ready to display.
A kickoff is planned for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. at the town clock. There, the names of those featured on the banners will be read aloud, along with a performance of the national anthem.
Those interested in filling out an online or print application can email [email protected] or call 831-223-5075. A deadline of Oct. 26 has been set for the first round of banners in time for Veterans Day.