Ashland honors veterans ahead of Memorial Day

LINCOLN, Neb. - For the past two years, the city of Ashland has honored veterans with a huge celebration on Memorial Day, complete with parachutes and fireworks. This year, COVID-19 is canceling those plans, but the city is still making sure those who served are at the front of everyone's minds over the holiday.

Right now, 41 banners hang along the streets of Ashland. Each one honors a veteran. The city is putting the banners up ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. (Source: KOLN)

If you drive down Hwy 6 or any of Ashland's main streets, you'll see dozens of banners honoring veterans ahead of this weekend of remembrance.

"It was something we wanted to recognize the hometown heroes with," said Bradley Pfeiffer, the President of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.

Right now 41 banners line the streets, each with the name, branch and rank of a veteran.

"It could be anyone from the Civil War up to the current," said Pfeiffer. "World War I, World War II, Vietnam."

Every banner is five feet tall and three feet wide. New this year, an American flag hangs above each one.

"You can see your father or your grandfather every day when you drive by, or a loved one of some type," said Pfeiffer.

For Pfeiffer, this project is personal.

"Last year I had my dad and grandpa and this year I have my other grandpa on here," said Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer's grandfather, Sergeant Harry Gustafson, served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

"We called him Grandpa Gus," Pfeiffer said. "Grandpa just knew how to live, he loved life and talk about his experience with the fire department and in the army. It was enlightening just to talk to him about it."

Now through Veterans Day in November, you can drive through town and honor veterans just like Grandpap Gus.

While the plans to honor veterans this Memorial Day may have changed this year, the meaning behind the banners remains the same.

"They stand for the American flag," said Pfeiffer. "They fought for the American flag so this is something that needs to be done. We need to honor them."

Ashland says it has gotten calls from people in Omaha and Lincoln wanting to participate. Right now only people who live in Ashland can have banners made for their loved ones who served.

The city is hoping to reschedule the ceremony it had planned for this weekend either this fall near Veteran's Day or next spring.