ST. MARYS — The efforts of 17-year-old Rebecca Dominguez helped to unify the community of St. Marys.
Dominguez, now a junior at St. Marys Memorial High School, began Honoring Hometown Heroes, St. Marys, Ohio, in the summer of 2018, and is now being acknowledged for her work with a 2019 Jefferson Award and the Girl Scouts Gold Award.
“My grandpa is a veteran himself, so I took inspiration from that and wanted to do something to bring the town together,” Dominguez said of her reasoning behind the project. “The levy was really a touchy subject between a lot of people. To have a common subject for people to talk about without hurting feelings, it’s a nice thing to have.”
Honoring Hometown Heroes now lines the streets of St. Marys with banners honoring veterans who have lived or worked in St. Marys over the years. She came up with the idea when driving through other towns adorned with banners of different types.
Dominguez has partnered with the VFW, American Legion, the local newspaper and several other local veterans groups to make her idea a reality. The original goal was to have about 30 banners line a single street of St. Marys with photos submitted from local families. There are now over 200 pictures displayed over 2.5 miles.
Dominguez’s mother, Dianna Pendleton Dominguez, who nominated her for the Jefferson Award, is also her troop leader, so she was not able to be involved in the project.
“I can’t tell you how incredibly proud I’ve been to watch her take an idea, expand upon it, and really analyze and figure out how to make it work and do it,” Dianna said. “I had to stand on the sidelines, and I’m just amazed at the fantastic job she’s done. It’s very inspirational to see your daughter grow and gain more confidence as she realized she could really do this.”
The city continues to hang banners as the weather allows, and will continue to do so even as Dominguez ventures off to college soon. But that first dedication will be one she won’t soon forget.
“When we did the ceremony when they were first hung up, a lot of people came up to me crying and gave me a hug,” Dominguez said. “Even my grandpa could be there.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.