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Banners proposed to honor Windsor servicepeople

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 | Posted by

By CLARK MASON

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Windsor could soon become the second city in Sonoma County to display street banners with the names and faces of active duty military personnel.

The Town Council last week gave its approval to a pilot program that will showcase armed forces members who either live in Windsor or have family members in town.

“There’s a lot of people in our community that are active duty and it’s just a way to honor and acknowledge that,” said Councilwoman Robin Goble, who proposed the program to her fellow council members.

Council members said they are also open to featuring the service members on the town’s new electronic billboard at Windsor’s central freeway offramp.

Rohnert Park was the first in the county to embrace the banner program, although, according to organizers, it’s been done in approximately 30 Southern California cities and communities.

Typically, each banner has the name, service branch and picture of the honoree in military uniform.

“Sometimes we’ve forgotten the conflicts that exist are really real and these are our children that are defending us, doing the job that needs to be done,” Graham Rutherford of Windsor told the council.

Rutherford, principal of Cardinal Newman High School and former chairman of the Windsor Parks and Recreation Commission, has a son who is serving in the Marines.

Mayor Debora Fudge acknowledged that often the public isn’t aware of individuals serving in the military until they are killed in action.

“This is a good way for me to know the ones that are serving, to honor them while serving, instead of when they come home in a box,” she said.

In Rohnert Park the cost of the banners — about $200 each — is supported with funding provided by local sponsors, although there is no advertising. The plan is to do the same in Windsor.

In April, banners went on display on light standards at Rohnert Park’s City Center Plaza, showcasing 10 men and women currently serving in all branches of the service, including the Coast Guard.

“I have 10 banners up around the library. I have another batch just about ready to go. I’m looking for a few more sponsors,” said Andy Durkee, the retired Coast Guard captain who talked the city into launching the project. He has a website, www.starspangledbanners.org.

The program is supported and administered with help from the Chamber of Commerce. The banners will be displayed as long as the person remains on active duty.

Durkee said there hasn’t been any negative feedback because it’s not a ” ‘Join the Military’ campaign. It’s ‘Thanks for Your Service.’ ”

The only cost to the city, he said, is the public works personnel who install the banners.

“Two people and a bucket truck took a day. That’s the only impact on the city as far as resources,” Durkee said.

In Windsor, council members suggested the banners might be installed at Michael A. Hall Park, which was named for a 28-year-old Army chief warrant officer who died in 1994 on a humanitarian mission in northern Iraq when his helicopter was mistakenly shot down by a U.S. jet fighter.

The council asked the Parks and Recreation Commission to study details before the council gives its final approval.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com

Writer Spotlight

James Lanaras is our Windsor correspondent.
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