People driving through downtown Rapid City will notice a street pole salute to veterans in the community.
Dozens of banners are posted throughout the city honoring veterans who were wounded or killed in action.
Bill Casper served in the Air Force from 1959 to 1963. He says he always had an interest in World War II because of his uncle who served.
Casper started working on the Banner Project after noticing it in other cities.
“It started in Emporia, Kansas. They put a bill before Congress back in the 50s to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day, signed by President Eisenhower,” Bill Casper, Chairmen of the Veterans Honor Banner Project, said.
When the project arrived in Rapid City in 2017, 18 banners were placed in the downtown area. In 2018, there were 90 and today, there are 145 banners decorated on light poles.
“What we do is we ask people to sponsor veterans. So they get in contact with us and we have a form that they fill out. Putting the veterans name down, what years he was in the service or she and a picture of them in uniform and they can put on the banner whatever they want to for personal information,” Casper said.
Each of these banners holds a different story written by the families of the veteran.
“I think our goal is to honor these individuals. There are stories of people, men and women, people of all races, they all have a story to tell or there is a story behind them and I think the more we can get this out to the public, the more informed the public would be so I’m excited to get as many up as we can,” Casper said.
Rapid City is not far from Ellsworth Airforce Base and home to Camp Rapid, which is the South Dakota National Guard.
“We are here in the heart of America and next to great military installations and we have the greatest people living here, veterans included so we are a very veteran friendly community and we really appreciate what’s been done to get us what we have today,” Mayor Steve Allender said.
Rapid City is a “Purple Heart City” which pays tribute to those who were wounded or killed in combat.
“So it’s very special to know that these folks are here living in our communities or who have lived here,” Mayor Allender said.
Allender believes each person has their own personal connection to a veteran, including himself.
“It’s personal to look at the flag pole to see this human being’s face, typically in their uniform and to think my father as well was a veteran and he passed away a couple of weeks ago, so that’s got me thinking about the veterans project as well, so everyone has a got a connection to a veteran period,” Mayor Steve Allender said.
Casper says his goal is to get a banner placed on every light pole in Rapid City.
“I’m glad that he’s so excited about it. There are a lot of light poles in Rapid City, likewise, there are a lot of veterans in Rapid City,” Allender said.
With Veterans Day right around the corner, both Mayor Allender and Casper believe this is a great way to show appreciation.
“It just adds to the feeling of patriotism that we have here in Rapid City and being able to see those banners up during the parade and having the crowd downtown like that, I think it just makes Veterans Day that much more meaningful,” Casper said.