BUCKHANNON – The Walk of Valor Banners can now be seen hanging in Jawbone Park – just in time for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, is a solemn day to honor military members who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, the Walk of Valor banners honor local and other veterans connected to local people, both living and deceased.
Create Buckhannon hangs the Walk of Valor Banners in Jawbone Park every year in honor of veterans and was doing so at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Buckhannon City Councilman CJ Rylands, who is also the president of Create Buckhannon, said the veterans can be from Buckhannon or not.
“There’s no restrictions from being here or somewhere else,” Rylands said, “but as long as (the veterans) have some connection to someone here and someone sponsored your banner, then you’re up here.”
Rylands said Melodie Stemple of Create Buckhannon and Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau, both have applications for new banners, and there is a fee of $50 to have the banner produced.
President of the Upshur County Commission Sam Nolte said the project has grown over the years.
“It’s a little thing we do every year to honor the veterans who have served this country,” Nolte said. “We started off with maybe less than 100 banners and now we have over 500.”
Rylands said the idea for the banners was observed in another community, and Create Buckhannon expanded on it.
“We had seen this in other communities,” Rylands said. “Not quite with this concentration or numbers, but we thought it was one more visible impact on our community and then we brainstormed where and how and we had these structures. We just started, and each year it’s grown and more people participated.
“It connects you to this place, and it tells our story in a way visually, if this was your grandfather, your uncle or your cousin or your brother … because a lot of times, people in the military don’t get recognized for their service, and this is a way to do that.”
Rylands recalled a memory of seeing someone react to the banners.
“One of the best stories I have is when a gentleman was bringing his elderly mother down here, and she didn’t know what the intention was,” Rylands said. “She walked down, and he said, ‘Look up there mom,’ and she said ‘there you are,’ and it was her deceased husband’s banner. That struck me and that in a nutshell what this is about, being rooted or connected to a place.”
The banners are put up in time for Memorial Day weekend and will remain hanging until after Veterans Day.