The idea didn't begin with Cherryville. It had been done elsewhere. But last Fall, Cherryville decided to honor veterans in a special way by posting banners along its Main Street from Depot Street on the east to Mulberry Street on the west. Some of the banners were displayed for the first time in November for Veterans Day.
On Monday (May 24th) the 48 banners were again placed on Main Street just in time for the observance of Memorial Day this Monday (May 31st). Those whose photographs appear on the banners with the caption Hometown Hero include veterans both living and deceased and a couple of young men who are still serving in the US military.
Cherryville's Main Street program director, David Day, told us that as some more improvements happen on Main Street, the number of banners will be increased from 48 to as many as 82 (two per streetlamp pole on 41 poles).
Day said the project was a combination of city and private efforts. The city had the hardware for banners. The banners were paid for by local residents--in some cases more than one family wanting to honor a relative who had served. "It was quite an undertaking," he told us; "we had one photo of a soldier and his wife and the wife had to be cut out of the picture. In another case, I got an old photo that was only about the size of a matchbox (less than two inches). Some of the photos took considerable work to make them satisfactory." Day said he, merchants along Main Street, and the community are very proud of the result. "The people passed a bond issue last year that will provide funds for more Main Street improvements," he told us. "Just wait and see what we've got coming!"
Lincolnton resident Dale Punch says he wants to do the same thing in Lincolnton. Punch, who has brought Medal of Honor winners to Lincoln County for several years, said talk is just beginning, but he hopes to spearhead a project to put similar banners along Lincolnton's Main Street in time for Veterans Day this year. "Approval from the City Council will be necessary," he said, "but Richie (Haynes, City Manager) likes the idea, and I can't see any of them not going along with it." Like Cherryville, Punch says the banners will be purchased by families to honor their relatives or friends, and will become property of the city for storage and use in coming years for occasions like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Day said the banners in Cherryville are also now city property so they can be stored and reused.
Lincolnton's celebration of Memorial Day will this year include an annual event that had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic. VFW Post 1706 will host its Memorial Day remembrance Sunday evening at 5 PM. Mayor Ed Hatley will be the featured speaker; members of the choir from 1st United Methodist Church will sing the national anthem, and following the ceremony, the luminaries in the shape of a cross will be lighted on the VFW lawn.
On Monday, a brief ceremony will be held from 2 - 3 PM on the east side of the Lincoln County Courthouse (near the memorials there). Sheriff Bill Beam will speak.
In Stanley, the town will observe Memorial Day with a ceremony at the Stanley cemetery next to Christ's Lutheran Church. The keynote speaker will be Russell Stalvey, a retired command sergeant major. Joining Stalvey will be NC State Rep. John Torbett, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger, Stanley Mayor Steven Denton and the Gaston County Color Guard. There will be patriotic songs and a 21-gun salute.
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