Veteran services

City and Veterans Coalition Launch New Residents’ Project to Honor Loved Ones of Veterans

City officials and members of the West Tennessee Veterans Coalition (WTVC) came together last week to introduce a new project honoring local veterans of the “past, present and future.”

The project, titled “Our Faces of Freedom,” is a partnership between the city and WTVC that allows local residents to purchase banners to display their veterans or active-duty loved ones, to be displayed in eight city parks.

“Our Faces of Freedom project recognizes and honors local veterans and those who gave their lives in service to the United States Armed Forces,” said Jackson Mayor Scott Conger. “It also honors forces currently serving.

“The project will provide an opportunity for the community to express its collective gratitude to those who have served and are serving today, here at home and around the world, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

WTVC members, including President Jackie Utley, stood with Conger as they presented the first banner, showing Utley’s father, Tech 5 Jacob Prentyce Utley Jr, who served in World War II.

“We are very pleased to partner with the City of Jackson on this project,” she said, pointing to the banner. “We look forward to community support. We encourage family members, corporations and businesses to support this and sponsor a banner.

The banners, which measure 18 inches by 48 inches, will be placed on utility poles in North Park, Campbell Memorial Park, Shirlene Mercer Park, Muse Park, Conger Park, Malesus Park and Forest Hill Park.

“People will be able to access it wherever they like to walk, and we hope people will take the opportunity to walk around the parks and look at these wonderful images,” Utley added.

The project has been underway for months between the WTVC and the city, and Conger was excited to share the project with the community.

“The only reason we are here today is because veterans fought for our freedoms,” he said. “We take this for granted every day, so it’s important to honor our veterans locally and across the country to make sure they know we appreciate them for the sacrifices and service they have given.

Larry Newsom, a WTVC veteran who served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 as a US Army medical evacuation pilot, was equally excited.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s a small thing we can do to commemorate the people who have made such sacrifices for our country.”

Newsome will have a banner for his father, who was a cavalryman at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and served in World War II.

“I think if you’re looking for a way to honor a loved one who has served their country, I think this is the right way,” he said. “It’s a two-year event, so there will be plenty of opportunities for people to share in this commemorative opportunity.”

Community members interested in honoring their veteran loved one — or an active-duty family member — are encouraged to email [email protected] for the order form, or find a hard copy at City Hall or any veterans organization in the city. A Google Form is also available on the WTVC Coalitions Facebook page.

If a resident needs a hard copy of a scanned image, they are asked to come to the Jackson Armory on Highway 70.

The banners cost $150 each and will be displayed in the parks for two years, after which they will be offered to banner sponsors.

They will be installed by November 1, 2022 and dismantled on November 1, 2024.

Do you have a story to tell? Contact Angele Latham by email at [email protected], by phone at 731-343-5212, or follow her on Twitter at @angele_latham.