DI Exchange Club’s ‘Honor Banner’ program pays tribute to veterans and first responders
Daniel Island residents and visitors have surely noticed the banners adorned with an American flag and a name on many of the light poles in the community’s town center area. These little pieces of patriotism are a regular sight around the island, thanks to the Daniel Island Exchange Club. Dubbed “honor banners” by the group, the small decorations seek to pay tribute to a veteran or first responder.
“It was one of the first things I noticed when we moved to the island three years ago, that there were banners with people’s names on them,” said DI Exchange Club member Joe Delpino. “I had never seen that before, so to me that is such community, a sense of inclusiveness that I’d never seen.”
The names of the honored are put on the banner, usually by a relative.
“Many of the honor banners are sponsored by family members in honor of parents (e.g., Father’s Day, Mother’s Day), as well as birthdays for those folks who ‘don’t want anything,’” said Delpino.
Delpino was so moved by the honor banner program that he dedicated a flag to his father, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Delpino.
Lt. Col. Delpino served in the Army during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He joined the service in 1943 and was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division in the Philippines. Robert Delpino left the Army in 1947, after working in Tokyo to transition Japan to a military government. He rejoined one year later, training infantry soldiers at Fort Dix.
During the Korean War, Robert Delpino served in military intelligence for two years. He served one year in Vietnam as part of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, before beginning his final assignment as the Commander of the New Hampshire sector of the United States Army Reserves. Robert Delpino’s service totaled 23 years of active duty service.
“Every day I am grateful for the legacy of freedom that these heroes served,” said Joe Delpino.
The fee for an honor banner is $250 for one name on both sides, or $295 for two names, one on each side.
The honor banner program is one of several fundraisers done by the Exchange Club. Money from the program stays local, according to Delpino. The three charities they are helping out this year are the Palmetto Warrior Connection (aids military personnel as they transition into civilian life), the Fisher House (provides housing for military families while their family member is in the Veterans’ Hospital), and One80 Place (offers temporary housing and advocacy for the homeless).
The banners fly for approximately 100 days a year, including Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriot’s Day, the 9/11 Heroes Run, and Veterans Day. Delpino said that they have about 80 flags, but the club believes “there’s certainly room to almost double that.”
To Delpino, the banners go further than showing deference to first responders and veterans. He also sees them as a chance to experience unity with the people around the Daniel Island area.
“It really is meant to have the community feel your neighbors. They’re not just houses, they’re actually people,” he said. “There are a lot of folks that in some cases gave their lives for the country.”