Military banner program ends

The hurricane-force winds that swept through the region overnight Nov. 30 left dozens of banners honoring military veterans along Foothill Boulevard tattered, prompting organizers to end the banner program.

Most of the 48 banners were taken down, while others blew away during the windstorm and won’t be replaced because doing so would be too costly, said Crescenta Valley Town Councilmember Danette Erickson. Seven banners that weren’t destroyed in the winds will remain hanging along Foothill until they “become unsightly,” she added.

“We are hesitant to start all over again,” Erickson said.

The 6-year-old military banner program, which included about 100 banners, cost more than $20,000.

Over the years, the banners — erected after the Iraq War to honor local service men and women — deteriorated and sustained some wind damage, but their appearance worsened dramatically with the recent windstorms, Erickson said.

“We are very fortunate we were able to do this for six years,” she said.

Similar military banners in Glendale also sustained damage in the windstorm, but the city plans to maintain the program, said Zizette Mullins, community relations coordinator.

The city recently replaced 13 banners that were damaged by the winds and will have about $11,000 remaining in the program budget after paying off other related costs.

Crescenta Valley Town Council members will return any remaining funds to sponsors who donated at least $100 to pay for the banners, Erickson said. Fifty-seven sponsors contributed to the program.

Some of the funds may also help pay for town council scholarships or a new war memorial at Two Strike Park, she added.

U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Travis Mason, 28, who occasionally snapped photographs of his banner when he visited family in La Crescenta, said he was sad to see the program end.

“I appreciated the opportunity for my name to be up there and I thank the city for recognizing all of those past and present,” he said.

Mason, who has completed three tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, said he plans to display his banner in his garage in Oceanside.

For Mary Cruz, the mounted banner helped her to indirectly communicate with her son, Brandon Cruz, while he was away from home in the U.S. Air Force.

“As I was driving past his banner, I would speak to him in my head,” she said.

Now, she said, it’s hard not to notice that the banner is missing.

Her son’s banner was badly damaged in the windstorm and part of it flew into a nearby lot. Mary Cruz retrieved it and tucked it away in her home.

The banners, she said, were a perfect way to honor local servicemen and women and create sense of awareness in the community about their efforts, adding that they “gave a hometown feel” to Foothill Boulevard.

As of Friday, at least two dozen of the banners that crews have removed still needed to be picked up. Anyone looking to retrieve their military banner may call Erickson at (818) 249-9577.

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