Hometown Heroes Committee leading effort to honor vets

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Hometown Heroes Committee leading effort to honor vets
Local restaurant Kith and Kin donated to the HHHC in June. Pictured are Diane Palmieri-O’Connor, Jeanne Fondas, Peggi Sullivan (sitting) and Kevin Fondas, Shawn Sadowski, Kith and Kin owner Joe Boudreau, Mark Vital and Lee Fondas. (Photo/Jeanne Fondas)

HUDSON — In communities like Bolton and Marlborough, there are banners hung on light poles to honor the veterans who have fought for their country.

Hudson, however, has yet to join their ranks in hanging banners.

The Hudson Hometown Heroes Committee is currently raising funds and making plans to produce banners for veterans.

The committee consists of AMVETS Chaplain Mark Vital, Fire Chief Bryan Johannes, Select Board Member Shawn Sadowski, Business Improvement District Director Richard Braga, Veterans Agent Brian Stearns, Jeanne and Lee Fondas, Diane Palmieri-O’Connor, the Department of Public Works’ Chris Winslow and Officer Wendy LaFlamme.

According to their statement, the mission of the committee is to honor and recognize Hudson servicemen and women who have lived in Hudson and served in the branches of the military from World War II to the Gulf War. If they have died in the line of duty or were honorably discharged, they are eligible to be honored on a banner.

Committee Member Jeanne Fondas, whose husband Lee served in the military, has a long history of family members who have served, including her father, brother and son Kevin.
Her father survived Omaha Beach on D-Day, and her brother served in Vietnam so it is a cause that is “really close to my heart,” Jeanne said.

When she saw the banners being raised in other towns, she wondered why they weren’t in Hudson.

Jeanne researched how other towns got the banners up and the proposals that were used to launch their programs. She contacted Vital, who helped her figure out how to form the ad-hoc committee.

The first meeting was in November, and as it is not yet a nonprofit, the Hometown Heroes Committee is associated with the AMVETS.

Rileighs Outdoor Decor, a company based in Allentown, Penn., will be producing the banners, while students in the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School graphic design program will design the banners under the supervision of teacher Dennis Whitney.

“He was wonderful,” Jeanne said. “He had the students help design prototype banners, and the committee chose what banner we wanted.”

The banner measures two by four feet and has the name, photo and information for the veteran. Applications can be submitted to Stearns, who will verify the information, and send it to Assabet, who will put together the design and enhance the visuals.

“They’ll do it all up, and they’ll get it all ready for print,” said Jeanne.

Then, it will be sent to Rileighs Outdoor Decor to be printed. The deadline for submission, she said, is March 1, 2024. The timeline to hang the banners are between Memorial Day 2024 through Veteran’s Day of the same year.

The application fee is $250, but the committee is also looking for sponsors to donate to the general fund. Families will fill out applications, which would cover the cost of the banners, installation and removal, and if a full donation amount is a hardship, there is consideration for a sponsorship.

As the priority will be for those killed in action from World War II to the Gulf War, Jeanne said the first efforts will be for the 38 servicemen from WWII, two from Korea, two from Vietnam and one from the Gulf War.

“We want to raise money for their banners,” she added.

The first round of banners will be placed from the Hudson-Marlborough line on Washington Street to right down Main and Broad streets.

Right now, the committee is accepting applications. They are available at the Hudson Public Library, the senior center, the AMVETS organization on 5 South St., Hudson VFW Chapter 1027 on 3 Palmieri Drive and the town clerk. The application is also available on the town website to be downloaded and printed.

Several people who have donated their time and support to the committee are Assabet Valley High School, Kevin Fondas, DPW Director Eric Ryder, Hudson Light and Power and the Select Board.

The committee requests that any living relative of Hudson veterans who were killed in action during World War II, Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan to contact Stearns at 978-568-9635 or send an email to [email protected]. For more visit the Hudson town website at www.townofhudson.org.

Jeanne said it takes a team to accomplish the goal of producing and hanging the banners, and everyone “plays a very important role.”

She added, “We have such a great committee of dedicated members. I really love them.”

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