One of the organizers of the revitalized Soldiers and Sailors Reunion wants to still honor veterans and the city’s patriotic past even though the yearly dinner will not be possible this year due to COVID-19.
Mark Decker came before the Salem City Council Monday night to seek permission to work with the city on the placement of banners on street light poles.
“Honor soldiers and sailors, but also just to advertise the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion, so those wouldn’t have a date on them just be something we would like to do every year. We would like to get in a rotation doing the banners if it’s possible. Our suggested dates would be from Little Egypt Festival weekend in October through Veterans Day because as you can see November 4th is now a state holiday for recognizing the GI Bill of Rights that was drafted here in Salem.
Decker wants to start small near the Main and Broadway intersection and then extend east past the Veterans Memorial and the American Legion. A later expansion could extend the banners all the way to I-57 to share Salem’s heritage with visitors.
City Manager Rex Barbee said he would continue to work with the group, but notes the time period is also when the Avenue of Flags utilizes the same poles. Decker says the program this year would also include honoring some of the city’s past veterans for their service in the media through a newspaper insert and radio features.
The group, which is an arm of the Salem American Legion, began work three years ago on reestablishing the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion. They have held dinners to recognize veterans the past two years along with participating in the Little Egypt Festival Park. Decker says they want to continue with those projects once COVID-19 is no longer a concern but didn’t want to subject older veterans to large crowds.