Banner Days

By
September Issue View more

A machine gunner, a pilot, a nurse.  A sailor, a Silver Star recipient, a POW. The next time you’re in downtown Naperville, be sure to look up. Banners hanging from light poles pay tribute to local veterans as part of the Naperville Salutes program.

“Naperville has a deep and rich history of military service,” explains Dan Jurjovec, president of Naperville Responds For Veterans, a nonprofit that assists veterans in need and their families. “This program honors and highlights our incredible local active military members, veterans, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Designed by the Naperville Public Arts Task Force, the double-sided banners feature the veteran’s name, service photo, and military branch. About 130 currently grace streetlights throughout downtown, including on Jefferson Street from Mill Street to the river, Mill Street from the BNSF station to Jackson Avenue, the Riverwalk near Centennial Beach, and in Central Park. The city plans to hang the banners twice a year for 60-to-90-day periods—one cycle for Memorial Day and another for Veterans Day. The current banners will be on display through November.

The stories behind some of these veterans are fascinating. Second Lieutenant Howard Cosyns, of the U.S. Army Air Corps, flew 124 South Pacific combat missions in World War II. Sergeant Robert Worthel, of the U.S. Army, fought in France and Germany during World War I, later becoming Naperville’s chief of police. You can find a brief biography of all honorees, including those not displayed in the current banner cycle, at the Naperville Salutes web page (naperville.il.us/naperville-salutes). You can search by name, branch of service, or banner location. You’ll also find a map identifying all the current banners.

Naperville residents can nominate an active-duty service member or veteran by submitting an online form through the website. To be eligible, the veteran, living or deceased, must have resided in Naperville at some point in his or her life. Nominators must also submit a high-resolution digital image of the veteran in uniform. Due to the limited number of sites available, applicants will be selected randomly. Others will be placed on a wait list for future installations. After each cycle, the city plans to present the honorees’ families with the banners.

“It’s impossible to adequately thank the brave men and women of our military and our veterans,” Jurjovec says. “These banners are a good step in that direction.”

Naperville Salutes is a collaborative effort between the City of Naperville, the VFW, the Naperville Park District, the Naperville Heritage Society, Freedom Heroes of Naperville, Naperville Responds for Veterans, and the Naperville Public Arts Task Force.  

Photo by Julie Duffin