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11-year-old drives effort to honor veterans with Plum banners

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Richie Hrivnak's great uncle, the late Paul Shish, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Dick Hrivnak, Richie's late grandfather, served as an Army police officer from 1960 through 1981.

When Richie, 11, rode through Castle Shannon recently on his way to a lacrosse game in Baldwin, he got an idea. “I saw military banners on the poles and said, ‘We should do that in Plum,' said Richie, who aspires to join the Coast Guard.

Charlene Hrivnak, Richie's mother, encouraged her son to pursue the idea. “Veterans have a dear place in his heart,” Charlene Hrivnak said. “We pray for them all the time.”

Richie, who will be a sixth-grader at Holiday Park Elementary School this fall, presented his banner plan to council. Richie's dad is Plum Mayor Richard Hrivnak.

Council members at the June 9 meeting voted unanimously to endorse the program.

Richie looks for the banners to go up on utility poles on New Texas Road and routes 286 and 380. Charlene Hrivnak said Duquesne Light gave her permission to put the banners on the utility poles. She anticipates community members getting involved in erecting the banners.

Harry Munson of Castle Shannon designs and creates the banners and has helped spread the program throughout Allegheny County.

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

Various communities in the South Hills have erected banners, with Whitehall being the most recent. Councilwoman Linda Book, a U.S. Army veteran, spearheaded the program in that town.

“I perked up when Castle Shannon began the program seven to eight years ago,” Book said.

Charlene Hrivnak said the banners cost $80.

Each order includes a banner to be displayed, a smaller one for personal display, a bracket to hold the banner, mounting hardware and inclusion on the Plum Borough Military Tribute website —

Orders can be placed for retired and/or deceased veterans as well as active service personnel, she said.

Members of the American Legion Post 980 on Saltsburg Road in Plum have volunteered to assemble the brackets.

Applications can be found on the borough website — or at the borough building, 4575 New Texas Road.

The Hrivnaks hope to have the banners displayed by Memorial Day next year. “We hope we get a really good response,” Charlene Hrivnak said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or

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