SEAFORD — Downtown Seaford is sporting a patriotic salute to those who served in America’s military, a tribute facilitated by 14-year-old Carson Hastings.
At present, 21 “Hometown Heroes” banners hang from utility poles along High Street, put in place last week by the city’s Electric Department. And more banners could be coming soon.
The signs will be on display until Veterans Day and will go back up before Memorial Day 2022.
Appreciation for the signage has been overwhelming.
“It’s definitely a lot bigger than I expected. Seeing so many people happy to see their relatives who served or are currently serving their country on those banners has definitely made this worth it,” said Carson. “Also, the surprise of the ones that honored their living family members that have served or are serving. I am lucky to live in Seaford, where I am only a kid that had an idea, and the city supported me every step of the way.”
Seaford City Manager Charles Anderson agreed.
“It is phenomenal the outpouring we have received from the community, the outpouring of support and just how our community really loves their veterans and how many families it touches,” he said.
Carson’s mom, Gigi Hastings, said her son can’t get over the response. “His email account he created for the project is flooding in with interest,” she said.
The initiative, which is ongoing, stemmed from Carson’s community service requirement in his role as president of the Delaware Society of the Children of the American Revolution.
“Carson came to the City Council and wanted to do something to recognize our local heroes by putting up banners representing those that served in the armed services,” said Seaford Mayor David Genshaw. “We’re so proud of a young person like Carson to come and want to do this. He raised his own funds to do it. We’re supporting him by hanging those banners. They look great. And again, to honor our Hometown Heroes is really special.”
Seeds for the project were planted through connections to military service and notice taken on vacations.
“We were on vacation in Virginia and noticed all the little towns have Hometown Heroes banners,” Ms. Hastings said. “Carson decided that he wanted to do that in Seaford.”
Carson added, “I got the idea from Kilmarnock, Virginia, and Preston, Maryland. My grandfather, Donny Dickerson, and I spend a lot of time together and noticed the banners on our travels. The idea about honoring our heroes came from hearing World War II stories from Wil Cason and Vietnam stories from my neighbor, Mike Fleetwood. Both are heroes, as anyone that has served or is serving is, and I felt that I had the means to help in honoring as the president of the Delaware State Society of the Children of the American Revolution.”
Carson raised the funding on his own. It included personal donations, contributions from families of those being honored, donations from the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution and his own savings.
“He did a Pampered Chef fundraiser,” said Ms. Hastings. “He has fundraised and actually saved on his own, … dogsitting jobs.”
As it stands now, the price tag is $1,500 for the first round of banners.
“We’ve already started accepting applications for future banners for the brackets not filled, and we’ve been working with the city to advertise this,” Carson said.
Mr. Anderson said expansion may be coming soon.
“The response has been such that we are actually researching areas where we can expand it,” he said. “We’re going to try and maybe do a round two.”
The project was launched in October.
“Our (Children of the American Revolution) chapter, liked the idea, as well, and I ran with it. My aunt, Kathleen Schrader, helped me in understanding the processes and procedures I needed to complete in order to make this happen,” Carson said.
After working with Deena Yale of Towers Signs, a proposal was sent to Mayor Genshaw and Mr. Anderson. “In January, I presented the idea to City Council,” said Carson. “Once approved, we were able to begin advertising to the community.”
The teen acknowledged the society, Mayor Genshaw, Mr. Anderson, City Council, Towers Signs, Bill Bennett, Seaford Economic Development/Community Relations Director Trisha Newcomer, Sierra Snigier, Tracy Torbert, the city’s Electric Department and city employees for support in this project.
He hopes it will continue well into the future.
“I realized that this project is not something that is done one year, and there will be upkeep to the banners to consider, as well as replacing as wear and tear … happens,” Carson said. “All this costs money, as I have learned through this project. I know I will not be the president of the Delaware Society of the Children of the American Revolution forever and need to make sure that this project is carried on. I want to stay involved and plan on attending Seaford High School and would like to be a part of the (Junior) ROTC program.”
His mom said Carson’s long-term goal is to keep the banners waving.
“Carson has long-term aspirations for this project,” she said. “He has already reached out to the Junior ROTC teacher at Seaford. He wants to be in JROTC, undertaking this long-term with the Junior ROTC, so it can keep up when Carson is gone from Seaford.”
Community service is nothing new for the eighth grader at Epworth Christian School. This summer, he joined the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department as a junior member at the earliest age possible, 14.
“Carson’s birthday is July 15,” said Ms. Hastings. “He filled out his application in April.”
Mr. Anderson called Carson “a phenomenal young man.”
“It just reaffirms your faith in our community and from all angles that there are just great people that live here,” he said.
Ms. Hastings concurred, saying she and Carson’s father, Tim, are very proud.
“He really took this on his own. We didn’t help him with it. We feel like bad parents,” said Ms. Hastings, with a chuckle. “Yes, we would cart him to places, for sure, but this was all Carson. It was his idea, and we are really proud of him.”
Banner applications are available at Seaford City Hall and at the Seaford Hometown Heroes website here.
Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-9173. Donations to this project are welcome.