MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio — “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States.
It is those leaders — Meigs Countians who have honorably served their country in the armed forces — who are now being honored on banners placed in villages throughout the county.
The banners are a tribute to Meigs County Armed Forces personnel, some dating back as far as World War I leading up to present day service members. The only requirements from the banners were that the service member must have been born in, lived in or be a current resident of Meigs County; and must have served and have been honorably discharged or currently serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Merchant Marines.
The project began in late 2019, and while stalled for many months due to COVID-19 related delays, fundraising, many donors and volunteers saw the project through to completion.
“Everyone has been so supportive of this project,” said Meigs County Armed Forces Banner Project committee member Barry McCoy. The committee is made up of volunteers Shilo Little, Sammi Mugrage, and veterans McCoy, Lou VanMeter, Bob Marcinko and Charlie Mugrage.
With the help of volunteers in the villages including mayors, fire departments, village workers, and local businesses, the 324 banners were hung. Lists of the names of the service members honored on the banners in each village were also compiled and are available on the Meigs County Armed Forces Banner Project Facebook Page.
More than 600 veterans or active duty service members from all branches of the military are recognized on the banners which are located in Chester, Middleport, Pomeroy, Racine, Reedsville, Rutland, Syracuse and Tuppers Plains.
McCoy explained that when people completed the applications for themselves or loved ones they were able to list a village and/or location where they preferred to have the banner placed. In trying to meet those requests, banners were placed as follows: Chester, 24; Middleport, 44; Pomeroy, 95; Racine, 72; Reedsville, 10; Rutland, 25; Syracuse, 22; and Tuppers Plains, 31.
The plan is for the banners to be displayed from Memorial Day to Veterans Day each year moving forward.
“I was amazed by the number of veterans in the community,” said McCoy of the number of applications received.
“The military is a good way forward and can provide a path for the future for young people in the area,” McCoy added. “Several of those honored on these banners have volunteered to serve their country after graduating high school. These kids are not required to join, they join on their own.”
Since the banners have been placed the committee has received several inquiries regarding additional banners being placed.
An announcement posted to the group’s Facebook page regarding additional banners stated: “This has been an ongoing project since October 2019 with the application process closing in February 2020. Unfortunately, our timeline didn’t go as planned and we are just now getting those banners installed. We are working diligently to get them all placed and will then evaluate our space and funding availability to see if a second round is feasible. So at the current time, we apologize but are not accepting new applications. However, we would love for you to share your beloved heroes’ photos and service notes on this group page in honor of their service. We ask that you then stay tuned and watch for further updates as to whether the project will continue. Thank you all for all of the support we have received and your patience when everything wasn’t going according to plan. God Bless.”
McCoy explained the committee plans to meet soon to discuss the possible addition of banners and future fundraising opportunities to support the additions.
“We wanted to do this to show patriotism and recognition for those who have served or are serving,” he said, also noting many other counties and communities have taken on similar projects in recent years to honor service members.
As was explained when the project was first announced, the goal was to cover the cost of banners through fundraising and donations so that no veteran, service member or their family had to pay to have a banner placed. This was achieved with the initial banners and installation materials, which cost around $17,000 to $18,000 dollars. All fund have been handled through the VFW Post 9053 in Tuppers Plains.
For more information visit the Meigs County Armed Forces Banner Project on Facebook.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.