New banners at Freedom Park pay tribute to local service members

NAPLES, Fla.- Collier County is paying tribute to service members with new hanging banners dedicated to veterans at Fred W. Coyle Freedom Park.

“It’s quite an honor, I never thought anything like this would ever happen to me,” said John Blatner, who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968.

Blatner says he was just doing his duty to his country, “I was shocked when I found out they chose me to be one of the veterans to be honored here.”

His banner is one of 36 now hanging at the park along Golden Gate Parkway. The banners identify a local veteran and thank them for their service.

“I think it’s extremely important to give credit to our veterans who suffered away from their families,” said Blatner.

The Collier County Honor Flight reached out to the community for sponsors to pay for the banners.

Martin Monahn says seeing his banner is something he can’t put into words, “Unspeakable honor and surprise, it was a beautiful picture.”

Monahan served in World War II from 1943 to 1945.

“I had no idea I would ever do anything like that. When I was young, I was going nowhere and the Navy saved my life.”

The banners will initially hang for 30 days, then will be up again across Collier County from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. Collier County commissioners, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, and the community are sponsoring the banners. Visit the Military Tribute Banner Program page to learn more.

Author: ashley edlund
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