(May 15, 2015) For the second year, Ocean City has what is quite possibly the most visible — at least in number of possible viewers — veterans’ recognition program in the country.
The Ocean City Elks Lodge 2645, in conjunction with the Town of Ocean City, erected another season’s worth of “Hometown Heroes” banners along the Boardwalk last week, from the pier to Fourth Street.
“I’m so blessed to have so much support from you all,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Brodie, one of several honorees who were able to return home for Friday’s dedication ceremony on the Boardwalk at North Division Street.
“We made the call to serve, but you all did not have to come out and support us like you have, so thank you so much,” Brodie said.
Each of the 20 banners recognizes an active-duty military member from Worcester County. Hung from the light posts bordering the tram lane, each banner features the service member’s name, rank, photo and hometown.
The banners are funded via private donations and sponsorships, made via the Elks’ Veterans’ Committee. Dave Stallone of Sign-a-Rama in Rockville produces the banners.
“This is quite an event,” said Elks 2645 Exalted Ruler Chris Graf. “I spoke just a moment ago to Mr. Stallone, and we both started to choke up.”
Ocean City Public Works Department employees erect the banners the week prior to Springfest, maintain them through the summer, and take them down at the end of the season.
The banners are then presented to the service members and their families, with this year’s presentation ceremony scheduled for Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on 137th Street.
This is the second year in a row that the Elks have organized the program. Anyone interested in sponsoring future military banners may contact Pat Riordan, chairman of the Elks’ Veterans’ Committee, at 443-623-6162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.