Buchanan celebrates Memorial Day with banners downtown

BUCHANAN – Many have seen the banners put up to honor high school athletes in area communities. This week, the Buchanan community is doing something a little different as downtown banners have gone up honoring local veterans ahead of Memorial Day.

Although the project is particularly timely right now with Memorial Day parades being canceled in most local communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea to honor Buchanan’s Hometown Heroes actually began last fall.

Buchanan American Legion Auxiliary member Connie Baber came up with the idea after seeing banners honoring veterans in other communities.

“We were on vacation last year in Sault Ste. Marie and saw that they had banners up,” she said. “I thought what an awesome thing to do. I also saw that they were doing it around here in Bridgman.”

She took the idea to the local legion leadership and got the go-ahead to proceed from both them and the city. The result has been the placement of 103 banners honoring veterans along downtown streets. Starting in January, people could pay for banners to honor family members and friends which were then produced by Derda Manufacturing in Niles.

The project became reality Monday morning with city employees and legion members out early in the morning to start placing the banners. The banners are now up on Front Street between the Legion post and Oak Street as well as a section of Days Avenue and a small part of Red Bud Trail. The banners will be up through June.

As visitors to downtown Buchanan will see, the banners give the name and service branch of each veteran as well as a picture-often of them from basic training. Veterans from World War II to the present are being honored with banners.

“We hope to have the banners up every year,” Baber said as she watched city crews place the banners on downtown light poles. “Our goal was to have them up for the Memorial Day parade, and it’s good to have them up even though the parade has been canceled.”

Legion member Larry Money said the project was made possible with the support of the local American Legion family in conjunction with the city of Buchanan. The legion also donated 43 American flags to the city to be placed on Front Street.

“Connie brought the idea for the banners to the legion and we jumped on board,” Money said. “We started accepting applications for the banners in January and it just took off. We stopped taking orders in April. Most of those honored are veterans from the Buchanan area. It’s nice to have these up since we can’t have the parade.”

“We want to thank City Manager William Marx, DPW Director J.T. Adkerson and the city crews for their help,” Money added. “Hopefully things will be back to normal next year and we will be able to have a parade.”

Baber and Money said they hope people will take some time this weekend to come downtown to look at the banners.

“This is something that’s good for the town and hopefully will bring out people’s patriotism,” Money said.

“This is a great tribute to veterans and it’s even more important with COVID-19,” Baber added “We were overwhelmed with how many people who participated in the project. I think once people see the banners, we will have more banner requests.”

Buchanan City Manager William Marx said the project is positive for the community and timely with the Memorial Day holiday coming up.

“This will be a great way for the city and community to honor our local heroes at a time when we can’t have our traditional Memorial Day parade,” he said.