Blazing a TrailJuly 2, 2021
Play It Safe this SummerJuly 2, 2021
As you drive down Canal Boulevard in Thibodaux, banners wave with commemoration of local heroes who have served and are currently serving in the military. Banners are also affectionately adorned with soldiers who have given their lives for the importance of freedom. These streamers hang with grace and cast chivalry.
“You have to be a veteran or family of a veteran who has passed on and you can get a banner made. We have lined Canal Boulevard that runs from the Terrebonne Parish line all the way to Bayou Lafourche. Right now, it’s on every other light pole. We put two banners, one pointing to the left and one pointing to the right,” said Kevin Clement, Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Thibodaux.
“This was actually an idea from the mayor’s secretary. She went to Bay St. Louis, and she saw they had a similar program. She’s like, ‘What a great idea!’ She came to me, and I said, ‘Yes, we can do that.’ We thought we would have about ten people. We have room for 40 people, so it started off slow and once we publicized it, it went crazy. We had 40 people in about three weeks. Then, we had a waiting list, and then for some reason, we were able to manufacture some more brackets. We were able to add eight more people. So, this first year of the program we have 48 veterans that we wave and honor,” Kevin explained.
The Hometown Heroes Banner Program will be implemented twice a year. The banners are hung two weeks before Memorial Day, flagging Thibodaux with gratitude through the Fourth of July. They will also be hung to memorialize selfless service on Veteran’s Day.
Citizens who want to partake in the program can purchase a banner for $100. The payment will include the serviceman or servicewoman’s picture and a brief description about branch, rank, etc. At the end of the year, the banner will be removed and be given to the contributor. If the participant would like to be involved the following year, they may use the same banner with an additional fund of $100.
“All the money we create and generate through programs and sponsorships all goes to the city’s general fund,” Kevin explained. “That’s why we’re here…to improve the quality of life and generate community togetherness.”
Kevin is poignant and dedicated to precise proposals of a plan. He has meticulously chaperoned the Hometown Hero Banner Program. The Parks and Recs Director has made sure every detail has been conditioned carefully and to its entirety.
“We actually made the brackets that go on the poles, we didn’t purchase them. The ones that you purchase kind of give way a little bit and lean and tilt and that’s no good. We are in the process now of how we can make more brackets and put them up on the poles that don’t have them right now,” Kevin said.
The Hometown Heroes Program has not only synchronized veterans and neighbors within the community but has also united a team behind the project ‘curtain.’
“We have guys that work for the parks and recreation department that are pretty handy. We purchase materials and they fabricate them. We have three or four guys out there that have shipyard backgrounds and welding backgrounds. We have a great team back there. Sometimes that gets lost with the day-to-day operations with the parks and rec staff. A lot of our creativity shines through, and this is a prime example,” Kevin stated.
The banners are valued and have become heirlooms for the community that can be passed down from heart to caring heart.
“It is something people value, especially veterans and families of veterans,” Kevin said. “We want this to bring the community together and to honor the veterans. For years we’ve had the fireworks display and last year we couldn’t do it, and this year we couldn’t do it like we could because of the pandemic. When we thought of this program back in January, COVID was still real and it was still kicking. The restrictions were more intense than they were now. We figured the July 4th celebrations wouldn’t happen. So, we just wanted to improve the life of our community and make it a little bit better, and I think we were able to achieve that,” Kevin ended.