S. Kansas Ave. banners will honor Topekans for military service

This Sept. 11 — and the following two months — Topeka will hang banners celebrating community members who served or continue to serve in the military.

 

The project, Hometown Heroes, will see as many as 68 banners adorning lampposts along S. Kansas Avenue in honor of current and former members of the military who have a tie to Kansas’ capital city.


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Friends and family can apply at http://bit.ly/MVPBanner and pay a fee to have a loved one included in the project. Members of the public can also donate to the effort, spearheaded by the Topeka-based Military Veteran Project and carried out with help from the Topeka Chamber’s Military Relations Council, Visit Topeka and Downtown Topeka, Inc.

Honorees can be active members of the military, veterans (alive or deceased), or people who lost their lives while serving.

The Military Veteran Project, which supports initiatives to prevent military suicide, was founded by Melissa Jarboe.

So far, members of the community have reserved 20 of the 68 banner spots that are available for this first year of Hometown Heroes.

Army National Guard LTC Anthony Randall, who died of brain cancer in 2014, is among those who will be commemorated.

When asked how she will feel to see a banner in honor of her husband displayed on S. Kansas Ave., his wife, Jenalea Randall, struggled to hold back tears.

“I have a lot of pride for his service,” she said.

Anthony Randall was chief environmental officer at the Kansas Army National Guard and had a doctorate in environmental science from Oklahoma State University, his wife said. He earned a bronze star for his service in Iraq. Within the U.S., his service included deploying to communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Tony was just a wonderful, wonderful man. An Army chaplain once called him the chaplains’ chaplain,” Jenalea Randall said. “He was a wonderful husband, a loving father. Intelligent, generous, kind.

“He loved his country, he loved his city, and he was driven to serve both,” she said. “This banner will serve as a reminder to each of us that our freedom requires action.”

Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast called the Hometown Heroes effort “meaningful” and “unique.”

Displaying banners with photographs of specific current and former members of the military “makes it so much more personal,” Wolgast said.

The 24-inch by 72-inch banners will be on display from Sept. 11 to Nov. 11. Each will bear a photo, name, rank and branch of service, as well as a color-coded star. White stars will signify veterans, blue will represent ongoing military service and gold will represent those who died in the line of duty.

The fee for a banner is $200 to cover the cost of producing it, installing it and removing it.

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