I had the opportunity to join Stan Gray, owner of Fastsigns and two of his employees at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning as they began their second day of hanging banners on poles lining Torrance Blvd. If you live in Torrance or work in Torrance, you know these banners are significant as they announce the upcoming Armed Forces Parade and pay tribute to Torrance’s Hometown Heroes.

The City of Torrance is one of the few cities in the nation designated by the U.S. Department of Defense to host an Armed Forces Day celebration with the Torrance Armed Forces Day Parade as a highlight.  This rich tradition began in 1960; Mayor Al Isen, with the help of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce, organized the first parade as a tribute to friends and fellow Americans who had served in the Armed Forces. 

Stan shared that it takes several days to hang the banners throughout the city.  A large map indicates the poles the banners are to be placed on.  He, and his two employees, have a system that is extremely efficient. 

As a banner was being hung, an individual stopped as he was riding his bicycle to work. He and Stan had a conversation about his fathers-in-laws Hometown Heroes banner that has been hung annually for several years.  The bike rider explained that his father-in-law was a veteran of World War II.

“Moving to Torrance in 2008, I had no idea that Torrance held one of the longest running Armed Forces Day Parades in the country.  I was blown away by the support that the community of Torrance gives the armed forces.

It’s so cool to drive throughout the city and see all the banners, thanking friends and family for their service.  I remember thinking, wow!  It must be a large company that hangs all of those banners.  I didn’t even realize that FASTSIGNS was in my future at that time.  Fast forward 15 years, I own FASTSIGNS and we are not a huge company, but we are a small business that does big things and meaningful projects like the Hometown Heroes banner project.

As a veteran, meeting the friends and families of the service members of the banners, hearing their stories, and becoming a part of the story in Torrance as we support the armed forces, means everything to me and our team.  We look forward to each day we install this project and have these conversations.  I don’t get to go on all the installations for our business, but I try to never miss a day of installing banners for our Hometown Heroes,” stated Stan.

As you drive through Torrance in the next month, please notice and acknowledge Torrance’s Hometown Heroes banners that line the street. These banners are part of a City of Torrance program that recognizes those members of our community who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, veterans who have served in the past, or veterans of the past who are now deceased.  Please also note the banners announcing the Armed Forces Day Parade on May 20th at 1:30 p.m.

A special thank you to Stan Gray, owner, Fastsigns for allowing me the opportunity to join him and his team as they hung these banners.  It is evident that as a veteran, Stan takes great pride and respect in this project.

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