Hometown Heroes are honored in Franklin Square


Honoring local heroes is something that Franklin Square is proud to do, year in and year out.

The Franklin Square Civic Association has sought out friends and family of military veterans since 2019 and loved ones of healthcare workers and first responders since 2021.

More than a dozen armed forces veterans were honored at the recent Hometown Heroes Banner Dedication Ceremony, but very few were there to receive it.

The Franklin Square Civic Association has honored veterans for the last six years with these recognitions. Cub Scout Troop 372 marched through the yard with the American Flag and led the pledge of allegiance before the ceremony.

Only two of the veterans were there to represent themselves. Everyone else was represented by family or friends. One family even received two awards for different people. Many of the heroes are deceased.

“I think (the armed forces) are people that volunteer,” said Ed Ra, the local assemblyman. “It’s a small population of people relative to the population of our country. But they step up and they serve when others aren’t willing to. I have the utmost respect for them.”

The hometown and honored heroes served in the armed forces as far back as World War I and as recent as 2024, like Christopher Kirksey Jr. They represent both wartime and peacetime protectors of the United States.

Paul H. Dippel served in the armed forces as a radar specialist in Korea just after the Korean War.

“I would say I tried to be the best soldier I could be,” Dippel said. “There might have been one or two situations that didn’t reflect that, not that I was at fault or anything. My service time was glad to be done.”

Hometown heroes are veterans who were born in Franklin Square and may or may not have returned after their service. Honored heroes are people who have family or friends in Franklin Square, though they may not live here, and those people want to honor them.

“I’m very pleased with the Franklin Square community: the schools, the general populace,” Dippel said. “We’ve been here since 1968. So we’re settled.”

Hometown and honored heroes are nominated by their family or friends. These loved ones submit an application to the civic association. The civic association solicited applications on Facebook and its website where they come pouring in.

“We open it up to the community and the community chooses who they would like to honor,” said Adrienne McKenna, the chairperson of the Hometown and Honored Heroes Program for the Franklin Square Civic Association. “They’re either family members, or they’re residents of the community who have a family member who lives elsewhere that they would like to honor.”

While programs like this one are seen all over Long Island now, the civic association started its program when it wasn’t common in the area.

“It was something we started with the civic that we wanted to do,” McKenna said. “I think it started in Pennsylvania. It’s something that we wanted to do here.”

The heroes are represented by banners at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2718. They receive the recognition of the heroes program, and sometimes an additional citation.

Many of them are in their golden years.

“I have a problem with balance and gait and just keeping myself steady,” Dippel said. “So those are the things I have to concentrate on. And, improve my basic wellbeing.”