NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — It’s not a new idea, but residents in North Royalton, especially given the recent deaths of service members in Afghanistan, say it’s an idea whose time has come. City crews braved the heat to hang banners that say ‘Thank you for your service’ to local veterans who can stop by and see their banner as well as to those who can’t.
“Just to see my brother’s picture up, it got deep to my heart,” said Wally Ohler, of North Royalton’s Veteran’s Liaison.
His brother Albert has been gone for some time now, but for this 76-year-old North Royalton veteran, his memory, and that of other area veterans, lives on, and it’s all thanks to these banners, which are all part of the city’s “Hometown Heroes” program.
“My brother is gone; he’s somewhere up there watching over us, and others are also. They must be rejoicing," Ohler said.
So far, the images of 40 local veterans are on display along a stretch of Royalton Road. Councilman Jeremy Dietrich spearheaded the campaign after seeing “Hometown Heroes” in other Northeast Ohio communities.
“Without the veterans, we wouldn’t have a home to protect, and that’s why I want it plastered everywhere,” he said.
The sense of patriotism is nothing new to North Royalton, where a memorial to honor fallen marine Jeff Boskovitch, killed in “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” sits outside city hall.
North Royalton Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz says “Hometown Heroes” merely continues his city’s tradition of honoring veterans.
“Anytime we can remind people of what they’ve done, the service they provided, is something we always like to do,” he said.
That service was provided by special people -- veterans -- just like Ohler himself, whose banner is now on display, about 20 yards away from his brother's.
“I said, put someone else in place, and he said, 'No, no, I want yours to go up also, we have the room,'” he said. “What a special city and its people. Because you have made me so proud.”
Once a banner is retired, it goes to the veteran’s family.
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