COATESVILLE, Ind. — A local program to honor military veterans and active service members in their home towns is expanding to new parts of central Indiana and beyond.

Rhonda Beck serves as Service for Veterans Committee chair for the Wa-Pe-Ke-Way Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She is the driving force behind the program to display personalized banners for veterans and service members on the streets where they came from.

“It’s just an overwhelmingly well-received project,” Beck said. “Not only by the town officials, but it means so much to the families and the local residents to see these banners.”

As part of the program, families in towns where the program is adopted can purchase special banners for veterans, living or deceased, as well as active service members. In 2020, the program started with 108 personalized banners that were put on display in Brownsburg, Danville, Avon and Plainfield.

“At the end of that, when those banners went up, we had over 100 people waiting to be wanting to do it the next year,” Beck said.

As of this Memorial Day, the program organized by the chapter has expanded to 12 different communities in four counties: Amo, Clayton, Clermont, Brownsburg, Coatesville, Danville, North Salem, Pittsboro, Plainfield, Roachdale, Russellville and Ladoga.

In addition, Beck said other DAR chapters now have banners on display in Lebanon, Brookville, Beech Grove and Plymouth. DAR chapters in Crawfordsville, Vincennes and Pendleton are working on them as well, Beck added.

“We have had over 600 banners mounted in those towns and communities in that three-year period,” Beck said.

The banners on display now will stay up until next May, when they will go home with the families who purchased them. Beck said there are currently more than 150 people on the wait list for banners to display in 2023.

As president of the Coatesville Town Council, Jerry Decker said he loves seeing Coatesville join the growing list of communities involved in the program.

“We had two World War I people and I actually knew a couple of them and talked to them and this would have been super great,” Decker said. “And I know they’re looking down on me right now and saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’.”

Joining the program means even more to Decker as an Army veteran who served just before the start of the Vietnam War.

“I had a lot of folks that I knew that didn’t make it out of there, so yeah, it means a lot to me,” Decker said.

Navy Veteran Jimmie Virgin said it gives him great pride to see his own banner on display just outside Coatesville’s business district.

“What an honor to be involved for the veterans and the warriors who can’t join us today,” Virgin said.  “Brings back a lot of memories, a lot of reflection.  This is the greatest country in the world, and I would do it again if I was a young man.”

“It’s an honor, it’s nice to see,” said Marine Corps Veteran, Jonathan Miller, referring to his own youthful photo on his banner. “It’s a great connection with the community, with the different people.  It’s fun to see family members be able to see these things, be able to see you up there.”

In addition to expanding into more Indiana communities, Beck said she is in talks with organizations in Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan that are interested in starting their own military banners program.

Families who are interested in purchasing a banner for their loved one can contact Beck directly at (815) 953-2101.