Winning Design

Tourism marketing director Prasil wins Veterans Banner Contest

Her banner honors legendary Maj. Samuel Woodfill

(December 2017) – “Thank you for your service” is what people say to show their appreciation and gratitude to soldiers that are currently serving and to veterans who have served in our military.  America has always fought to protect our freedom, and it’s an honor to meet the wonderful veterans that helped protect our country.
This year on Nov. 11 in Madison, Ind., Veterans Day was celebrated with a Veterans Parade, multiple events and ceremonies to honor those who have served. However, the city of Madison also tried something different.

Photo by Sam Swartz

Sarah Prasil displays her winning Veterans Banner on Nov. 11 following a ceremony in the Brown Gym

This year, city officials also incorporated a banner contest to honor Jefferson County, Ind., veterans. The veteran honored at this inaugural event was Maj. Samuel Woodfill. The winning design had to convey patriotism, respect, dignity and the colors of our patriotic flag – red, white and blue. Of course, to make everything fair for the contestants, there had to be a few guidelines or rules.
Robin Henderson, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the 1960s, helped with this Veteran’s Day program. “We wanted everyone to have the same chance in this contest,” said Henderson.
He continued by explaining that there are certain pictures you have to use of Woodfill, and certain designs that you can incorporate in your own design.
Sarah Prasil, marketing director for VisitMadison Inc., won the banner contest this year and received a $250 check. She was announced as the contest winner during a Veterans Day event at the Brown Gym in Madison.
Prasil said she felt extremely honored and humbled to be recognized during the event.
“I was surprised to hear that I had won and to be invited for the big reveal,” she said. “It was very humbling. My grandparents, who are now passed, are very dear to my heart, served in World War II. Hearing my grandparents’ stories and what they stood for truly shaped me to be who I am today. It’s very important to honor them, and I truly hope they are proud of me and I know that they are.”
After the ceremony and the Veterans program, Prasil said she was surprised and honored to be approached by multiple veterans thanking her.
“Lots of veterans came up to me, thanked me and shook my hand and seemed very grateful. It was a bizarre reverse thanks because I’m thankful for my freedom, for what they done and what they sacrificed ultimately. So to be thanked by all these veterans made me feel even more humbled,” Prasil said.
For a majority of students that applied, the Jefferson County Veterans Council decided to thank the students with a certificate of appreciation and as a way to help encourage the kids to stay creative, keep moving forward and never give up.
The banner idea first came from Jefferson County Veterans Council member Happy Smith, who while attending a conference, heard about the banner contest and decided to bring the idea back to Madison.
U.S. Air Force veteran and council member Allen Manning also helped organize this program. He joined the service in 1975, a year after high school, and continued serving until 2005.
“We have a total of 60 (banner) poles in the city, but only 54 banners for sale because the remaining six banners are reserved for Maj. Samuel Woodfill, the Air Force, the Army, the Marines, the Navy and the Coast Guard,” Manning said.
“These banners will be placed in front of the Bicentennial Park. With 54 banners, and having more than 3,000 veterans potentially in the county, we want to give everybody an opportunity to honor a local veteran or active military person.”
The banners will be available for purchase in February 2018, but with one catch – they will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Lanier-Madison Visitor Center and the Jefferson County Veterans Council are planning to roll out the new banners during a ceremony to be held on Armed Forces Day, which is May 19, 2018.
In order to purchase a banner, the applicant must be in the military or a veteran, must have lived in Jefferson County at some point, and must provide a picture of himself in uniform.
Woodfill was a well-known, celebrated veteran, not only today, but also back during World Wars I and II and one of Americas most decorated soldiers. Woodfill, who was born in Jefferson County, is one of the couple of veterans who won the Medal of Honor in World War I. This year marks the 100th anniversary since the start of World War II, and next year will be the 100th anniversary for Armistice Day.
Woodfill won the Metal of Honor at age 35 when he was a First Lieutenant. He had a very long military career, joining just at the turn of the century, and served in the Philippines, Mexico and Alaska. He served from the 1900s until 1942-1943. He is honored with a large plaque that stands in the Jefferson County Courthouse lawn.
“I feel because of my family’s background, I have always been a very patriotic person,” Prasil said. “I always wanted to be a good example for the young today because I don’t think they really grasp the meaning of our freedom. I appreciate our freedom, and I can only imagine how much the veterans have sacrificed for our country. And for that I have nothing but respect, patriotism and feel like the dignity is there.”

For more information about the Jefferson County Veterans Council’s Banner Project, visit the Facebook page.

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