PETERSBURG, Ind. (WEHT) — Just in time for Veterans Day, Petersburg’s Main Street is commemorating 51 veterans who sacrificed their lives in the Armed Forces and have ties to Petersburg.
Husband-and-wife duo Lenny and Pat Reitz is to thank for spearheading the campaign. The Reitzs had previously worked hard to show off banners of veterans in their previous home in Collinsville, Illinois outside St. Louis.
“We wanted to share the opportunity for other veterans to be able to be honored and recognized,” Lenny Reitz said. “I think usually it means the most to the veterans’ families. They’re the ones that really get excited about it.”
Amtek Signs in Salem, Indiana made these banners, and they were displayed for the first time earlier this summer from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July.
Something that has not changed since the summer is the emotional connection — which Lenny and Pat say — some have when visiting the banners on Main Street.
“There’s tears that we often see when people come to visit the banners — especially for the first time,” Pat Reitz said. “At the bottom of the street, we see families crying of veterans crying — seeing their banner up and seeing that somebody is thinking about them, and they mean something to somebody.”
Army and Air Force Veteran Paul Austin was born and raised in Petersburg and also has a banner dedicated in his honor.
While serving in Korea and Vietnam, Austin says a memorable experience in the military includes taking his brother-in-law’s body back home to the United States.
He adds that the residents in Petersburg can be proud of the program put in place.
“I think that the city can be proud for the banners that they have been put up, and we were actually hoping to get some more and more and take a fundraiser to help get the city to do that,” Austin said.
The process to have these banners printed took the Reitzs more than year to complete, but they tell Eyewitness News that this is a successful program.
The banners in Petersburg will stay up until Thanksgiving, and they will return to Main Street once again in April for Memorial Day in 2024.
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