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Bridgeville community joins military banner tribute program

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Harry Munson of Castle Shannon designs banners on his home computer in this April 2014 file photo.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Banners designed by Harry Munson of Castle Shannon are displayed on Library Road in South Park.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Harry Munson, owner of HTM Designs, organizes military tribute banners for the on his back porch in Castle Shannon in this April 2014 file photo.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Harry Munson designed this banner for display in Bridgeville.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Banners designed by Harry Munson are displayed on Library Road in South Park.

In Bridgeville, Memorial Day will last six months this year.

The borough is taking part in a military banner tribute program that originated in Castle Shannon. Residents can purchase a banner honoring a loved one in the military. The borough will display the banners on utility poles from Memorial Day through Veterans Day.

Borough manager Lori Collins had a banner made in honor of her father.

“It just took my breath away,” she said. “I knew he was so proud of his service, and I knew he would be proud of me for doing it. It brought me to tears.”

It is a common reaction, said Michael Warhold, president of the Castle Shannon Revitalization Committee. He helped start the banner program in his borough.

He said the idea came from a similar program in Leechburg. A Vietnam veteran, Warhold said he wanted to keep service members in the forefront of people's minds.

“I wanted to honor our service men and women, past and present,” he said. “I was thrilled just getting (the program) started. It is beyond my wildest expectations what this has turned into.”

Harry Munson, also of Castle Shannon, designs and creates the banners and has helped spread the program throughout the county.

“We came up with the idea and it just grew,” he said. “And it's been a very emotional experience.”

What started out as banners hanging in Castle Shannon's Memorial Park now stretch through the borough's center and down 17 miles of Route 88. Whitehall and South Park are planning to hang banners, and Carnegie and Scott councils have approved motions to move forward with the project.

In Bridgeville, parking authority member Rich McElhoes spearheaded the project locally after he saw the banners in Castle Shannon.

“It's amazing. I don't know if I've ever been in a program that elicits so many heartfelt responses from family,” he said. “When you deliver a banner to them, they cry. And these (servicemen and women) deserve our respect and tribute to them.”

Munson said it is the reason behind the program.

“This isn't our business. We don't make a living doing this,” said Munson, who owns a design company with his wife, Tammy. “It's in support of the kids — support of the troops. It's not an individual effort, it's a community effort.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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