Jeanne Tennant couldn't hold back her tears June 23 as she waited to see her son's name and picture raised up a light pole across from Huntington Beach City Hall.
"It takes me back, and all my feelings, when he was there," she said. "I was a very nervous mother."
Her son, David Tennant, was among the first set of U.S. military personnel whose names and pictures were featured on the banners.
He toured Iraq twice, his mother said.
The city installed the first seven banners in its Hometown Hero program on Main Street's center median between Yorktown and Utica avenues.
"This is to pay special recognition for our servicemen and women and what they do for us on a daily basis," Mayor Joe Carchio said before last Thursday's installation.
Each time a banner rolled out, cheers and claps from the audience drowned out the traffic going by.
"We know him," a woman shouted with excitement.
Carchio introduced the program, which is restricted to residents and their immediate family members, during a May City Council meeting. The council unanimously supported the program with the American Legion Post 133.
Family members and/or local businesses paid for the banners, which cost about $270 each.
Toyota of Huntington Beach and Duke's Huntington Beach owner Mike Ali were among the sponsors.
Ali, who served in Vietnam, said it wasn't like this when he returned.
"I asked myself, 'What can I do to make a difference?'" he said.
The city is expected to install 32 more banners by the Fourth of July. According to a city brochure, banners will be displayed for up to a year, at which point they will be given to the hero or their family.
How To Help
To make a tax-deductible donation to Hometown Heroes, make a check payable to American Legion Huntington Beach Post 133 – Hometown Heroes Program and mail it to American Legion Post 133, attention Hometown Heroes Program, P. O. Box 133 Huntington Beach, CA 92648. For more information, contact Ashley Wallace at (714) 536-5579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun