Local veterans and active duty servicepersons being recognized from May to November
(Schenectady, NY, May 15, 2015) – The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC) and City of Schenectady unveiled the new Hometown Heroes banner program today during a ceremony in downtown’s Veterans Park. The banner program honors veterans and active duty servicepersons from the City; each banner features an individual’s photo, name, and branch of service. Sponsored by companies, organizations, and families, the banners are displayed on light poles along State Street from Veterans Park to South Church Street and around Schenectady City Hall beginning today (one day prior to Armed Forces Day) until mid-November (just after Veterans Day). A total of 33 banners are currently on display. Ten additional banners will be installed by mid-June.
Said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, “We have been proud to partner with the DSIC on downtown banners since 2011. This year’s Hometown Heroes program is a fantastic opportunity to show public appreciation for local servicepersons while adding new visual interest to the streets of our vibrant downtown. This is also a perfect complement to downtown’s Veterans Park, which is a prominent State Street landmark.”
Said Jim Salengo, executive director of the DSIC, “Our organization is dedicated to providing outdoor visual improvement projects in Downtown Schenectady throughout the year. When City Councilmember John Ferrari approached us about recognizing local servicepersons and veterans, we agreed that it would be a welcome new feature of our popular banner program.”
Said John Ferrari, Schenectady City Councilmember and Hometown Heroes advocate, “I had seen a similar program in other cities and thought it would be a wonderful joint project for the City and DSIC. I am very happy that the DSIC has made this project a reality, and I encourage everyone to come view the banners while visiting Downtown Schenectady.”
During today’s ceremony, 91-year-old WWII veteran Charles Merriam was recognized by having his banner installed live near the corner of State and Jay Streets while he was in attendance. Said Joan Waddell, Merriam family spokesperson, “The Merriam family is proud of our father’s/grandfather’s service to his country. It is an honor to have him recognized for his sacrifice through the Hometown Heroes program in Downtown Schenectady.”
A printable Hometown Heroes map showing the banner location of each honoree may be downloaded from the DSIC’s website: www.downtownschenectady.org. Visitors may also view and download a Hometown Heroes guide with brief biographies of many of the banners’ veterans and active duty servicepersons.
Major corporate sponsorship for the Hometown Heroes banner program is provided by SEFCU. Said Michael J. Castellana, president and CEO of SEFCU, “There is no greater service than serving one’s country. SEFCU is deeply honored to share in the recognition of these local men and women who selflessly gave of themselves to secure our freedom.”
Special assistance for today’s ceremony was provided by the City of Schenectady, Schenectady County, The Creative Advantage, Experience & Creative Design, Schenectady High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard, Trinacria Photography, City Councilmember Leesa Perazzo, Rick DeCresce, Olson’s Signs & Graphics, Villa Italia, and Johnny’s Restaurant.
The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation’s mission is to promote Downtown Schenectady as a premier location for commerce, recreation and living by enhancing, facilitating and supporting economic and cultural growth.
Biography – LTJG Charles W. Merriam
LTJG Charles W. Merriam, known to most people as Charlie, was born and raised in Schenectady. He graduated from Nott Terrace High School in 1942 and attended Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia for a short time before enlisting in the Navy to serve his country during WWII. At the young age of 19, LTJG Merriam became the skipper of an LCT, or Landing Craft Tank, in the South Pacific. Upon leaving the Navy, Charlie returned to his hometown to join the family insurance business. He married, raised a family, and gave numerous years of service to community organizations including the Schenectady City Mission, Visiting Nurse Service Association, and the Annie Schaffer Senior Center, just to name a few. In true Merriam fashion, many years later, at the even younger age of 85, he became the oldest person to use the zip line at the Episcopal Retreat in Greenwich, New York. LTJG Merriam has traveled extensively around the world, many times as a volunteer for VITA (Volunteers for International Technical Assistance). In the end, Charlie always comes home to Schenectady.