OCEAN CITY – Ocean City will continue to honor its local home town heroes next summer through a military banner program.
On Tuesday afternoon, Pat Riordan of the OC Elks Lodge Veterans Committee requested of the Mayor and City Council permission to continue the Ocean City Elks Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program in 2015.
The program was created for the community of Ocean City to honor and recognize active duty military personnel that reside in the county. Banners display the official military photo of the service person, as well as his or her name, rank and branch of the Unites States Armed Forces.
The banners are placed on 20 light pole locations on the concrete boardwalk easterly bump outs from Ripley’s Believe It or Not to 4th Street from Springfest in May to Sunfest in September.
To qualify for the Military Banner Program, the honoree has to be an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces and a resident of Worcester County with priority given to active duty military members currently residing in Ocean City.
According to Rioradan, this year’s program featured three Marines, two members from the Air Force, six from the Navy, eight from the Army and one from the Army National Guard,
“We were concerned that we had no Coast Guard people represented because we have a station here in town, but it turned out none of the 32 people stationed there met the requirements of local residency,” he said.
The OC Elks Lodge Veteran’s Committee has identified nine new active duty personnel with a goal to reach 20.
“I don’t think we are going to have a problem meeting that number, but we are asking for everybody’s assistance in identifying active duty military from Worcester County to meet the guidelines,” he said.
Once the banners were removed following Sunfest, a presentation ceremony was held on Oct. 18.
“The program was a very big success … but it [presentation ceremony] was the best part of the program for the year,” Riordan said.
The banner design and printing costs are paid by sponsoring citizens, fraternal organizations and area businesses. However, Riordan asked Public Works personnel to install and remove banners and brackets as needed.
“The banners held up well. We didn’t have any hurricanes, which we were thankful for,” Riordan said. “The only expense to Ocean City would be from the Public Works Department to help put them up for liability reasons.”
Council Secretary Mark Knight enjoyed the presentation ceremony in October at the Elks Lodge.
“I thought the event was really special as evidence by the number of family members that attended. I don’t want that to outdo the fact that those banners were up there every single day and so many people commented on them,” Knight said, as she made a motion to approve the program again for 2015.
The council voted unanimously to approve the banner program for 2015.
“This was one of those programs that were outstanding and well recognized as a tribute to those who serve our country. I get a lot of complaints about just about everything but not about this program. This was something that everybody felt good about,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.
Applications can be mailed to the Ocean City Elks Lodge #2645 and are accepted on an ongoing basis. Banners are raised in the order that the application was received. Applications must include an official military photo of the honoree, verification of military status and proof of residency.