Banners hoisted in salute to Middleboro veterans

May 20, 2023

MIDDLEBORO — They are neighbors, colleagues, friends, family.

And for the next seven months, they will be celebrities _ and heroes in the spotlight.

Armed with ladders and patriotism, volunteers helped place banners Saturday, May 20 on poles in downtown Middleboro that bear the name and identifying information of 50 Middleboro veterans. 

Some gave their lives while serving; others returned home but eventually died after a long life.

Still others are alive and well and, in some cases, were present to see the banners that bear their name.

Mary Standish, an Air Force veteran from the Vietnam Era, was beaming as she climbed atop the pole holding her image. She said she was the first female Apponequet Regional High School student to enter the military.

Having her photo on the banner is “awesome,’’ she said. 

Her time in the spotlight will continue as she serves in the Memorial Day parade as the grand marshal. She will portray Deborah Sampson, a one-time Middleboro resident who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War. Sampson’s banner holds a place of honor near Middleboro Town Hall.

The day’s festivities included the hanging of Sampson’s banner by a reenactor who also performed a depiction of Sampson’s story later in the day at a show at the Town Hall Grand Ballroom. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Middleboro Library and the Veterans Service Office. 

Standish said veteran recognition is less common these days. “I wish I’d see more people out,’’ on Memorial Day observances. “Younger kids don’t realize what Memorial Day is, a day to remember our veterans who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice.’’

Paul Kreitzberg, who served in the Army Reserves in Vietnam, said he was “very proud’’ to be featured on one of the banners. He said he hopes the Hometown Heroes project will “make people more aware of how many people have served and what they’ve done for us.’’

George Redlon helped raise banners on a day when his grandfather and namesake, a World War II Army veteran, Army, was among those honored. Seeing his grandfather’s picture whenever he drives through the town center “is going to be cool,’’ he said. 

This is the first year that Middleboro has participated in Hometown Heroes. Response was so enthusiastic that some veterans’ names will be held until next year.