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Belle Vernon hangs banners to salute veterans

| Thursday, May 14, 2015, 4:50 p.m.

Starting just outside the gate to the Belle Vernon Cemetery and lining the poles along Broad Avenue up to the American Legion, close to 30 banners honoring the community's veterans have been hung.

In lower Belle Vernon, plans are under way to do the same.

Ed Stasko said he was approached by Belle Vernon Mayor Gerald Jackson to spearhead the project.

“I was approached by the mayor, and I'm a Marine veteran,” Stasko said. “He volunteered me.”

Stasko served in the Marines from 1969 to 1972, including a tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a truck driver and security guard.

Originally from Monessen, Stasko has lived in Belle Vernon for the past 42 years.

Working in conjunction with the Rotary and the American Legion, Stasko is hoping to get the first banners hung along Main Street in time for Memorial Day.

Tom Hewitt, superintendent of the Belle Vernon Cemetery, is collecting the photos and processes the orders placed by area residents. He scans the photo images and places the orders on line.

His brother, Roy Hewitt, president of CDImage in Woodbridge, Va,. is helping with fixing with the images of the older photos. which are faded.

Tom Hewitt is also working on a similar project for North Belle Vernon.

Stasko, who takes care of Belle Vernon's veterans' memorial, said he was motivated to take on the banner project “for the people who served to protect our country,” Aside from himself, his sons, Edward and Brandon, served in the Navy and Army Reserve respectively.

His father, Edward Stasko Sr., served with the Army during World War II, and his uncle, John Lipnicky, was an Air Force recruiter.

Hewitt said he was motivated to lend his support to the projects because the cemetery is centrally located to both communities and he is a big supporter of veterans.

His father, the late Chuck Hewitt, served during the Korean War.

“It's an ongoing thing,” Hewitt said of the Belle Vernon project. “Those already ordered will be up by Memorial Day, and then we'll get future ones up as orders come in.”

The banners are hung in groups of two by the respective street departments of the two communities.

Those wishing to place an order for a veteran banner can call Hewitt at 724-929-5266 or Stasko at 929-6780.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.