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Even before her son enlisted in the Army, Jana Cole wanted to honor active service members by flying a banner for each one from a light pole on Caldwell Avenue.
She got the idea while on a trip to the Southern California city of Glendora in February. There, residents serving in the military are each honored by a bright red, white and blue banner with a big yellow ribbon on it hanging along three city streets.
"I got goosebumps," she said. "I got chills."
She grabbed her husband's arm and told him that they have to take the idea back to Visalia, she said.
Later, when her son, Brandon Hall, 18, enlisted, she was determined to make it happen.
They formed the BRAVE Project Visalia, which stands for "Banners Recognizing and Appreciating Visalia's Enlisted." The Visalia couple want to hang a banner on Caldwell Avenue and possibly Mooney Boulevard for every Visalian serving in the military.
With help from American Legion Post 18 and approval by the Visalia City Council, their dream could come true.
They are asking the city for an exemption from a sign ordinance that requires banners to be taken down after 30 days. The Cole's would like each banner to stay up the entire time the person is in the service or a minimum of three years, Gary Cole said.
Designs are being considered for the 3-foot-wide by 6-foot-tall banners, and submissions are requested by members of the public. The banners would fly 15 to 20 feet above the ground from 25 light posts in the median on Caldwell Avenue. Each banner would be identical except for the name of the service member and his or her branch of service.
"It's a good way to honor them and show them that we care," Gary Cole said. "The city has given us the tentative OK for Caldwell Avenue down the center median from Santa Fe to Chinowth [streets]." (UPDATE) We have been granted the go ahead for Akers St, Goshen Ave and Riggin Ave
With about 300 Visalian's serving in the military, Caldwell Avenue would fill up pretty quickly, Jana Cole said.
"We'll start out with Caldwell," she said. "We are now expanding to Akers St" ,she continued
The estimated cost per banner is $400, which includes the banner, support brackets, installation and liability insurance, Gary Cole said. That money would come from corporate sponsorships or families of the service member. The BRAVE Project Visalia is affiliated with American Legion Post 18.
"It's a great idea," said Bill Goodreau, commander. "Our American Legion is going to champion it for them."
IF YOU ARE A SERVICE PERSON OR THE FAMILY MEMBER OF A SERVICE PERSON, AND WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROGRAM, PLEASE COMPLETE THE SERVICE MEMBER APPLICATION FORM NOW AVAILABLE ON THE APPLICATION PAGE OF THIS WEBSITE. OR YOU MAY EMAIL US WITH YOUR NAME, THE ENLISTEE'S NAME AND YOUR ADDRESS AND WE WILL SEND YOU THE CONDITIONS AND A SERVICE MEMBER APPLICATION (SMA) TO FILL OUT.
SERVICE PERSONS BANNERS MUST be paid for in FULL, before their banner will be installed .
Family members are responsible for replacement cost for tattered and faded Banners.
WHY NOW ?, WHEN IS THE MOST APPROPRIATE TIME TO HONOR THOSE WHO ARE GIVING SELFLESSLY OF THEIR TIME AND IN SOME CASES THEIR LIVES TO PROTECT OUR FREEDOM ?
The answer is: THERE IS NO BETTER DAY THEN TODAY, TO HONOR THOSE SERVING OUR COUNTRY
THIS PROJECT IS THE BRAIN CHILD OF A MOTHER OF A SOLDIER, WHO WAS SO TOUCHED WHEN SHE SAW WHAT ANOTHER COMMUNITY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HAD DONE TO HONOR THEIR LOCAL SERVICE WOMEN AND MEN, AND MOST RECENTLY IT CAME TO THE FOREFRONT WHEN HER ONLY SON DECIDED TO JOIN THE ARMY. SHE REMEMBERED HOW THE TOWN OF GLENDORA,CA HAD HONORED THEIR OWN. SHE SET FORTH TO SEEK PERMISSION FROM THE CITY OF VISALIA TO HONOR OUR HOME TOWN HEROS WITH BANNERS.
BANNER'S RECOGNIZING and APPRECIATING VISALIA'S ELITE
TO ALL OF OUR BRAVE PROJECT FAMILY, GOD BLESS YOU ALL
GARY AND JANA COLE
WE ARE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE HAVE APPROVAL TO CONTINUE OUR PROJECT ON RIGGIN AVE