|Antigo is paying homage to its veterans in a dignified, yet very public, display.|
With the blessing of the Bradley family, the city this week unveiled the latest in its series of downtown banner, an image of the World War II Iwo Jima flag-raisers and Antigo native John Bradley, one of the men immortalized in the Rosenthal photograph.
The artwork joins just-installed banners honoring all five branches of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard—that line Fifth Avenue, the route of Monday’s 9 a.m. parade.
“As a city, we are glad we are able to honor all of veterans and their families through the banner program,” Mayor Bill Brandt said. “This is our latest way of showing our respect for those who gave their lives in defense of our country, as well as all veterans and their families.”
The Bradley banner is the most stunning of the additions, and was designed with help from Tom and Steve Bradley, John’s sons, and other members of the family.
In addition to the images, the banner is lined along the top in a red border with gold stars representing Gold Star mothers. The bottom is bordered in blue, with stars representing those currently serving in the military. It reads “Antigo Remembers.”
Although the late John Bradley was famously reticent about his role in the flag-raising, he was proud of his role in the defense of the nation and fiercely patriotic. After his service to the U.S. Navy and in war bond campaigns, Bradley made his home in Antigo with his wife, Betty, raised a family, and was active in civic, church and business until his death on Jan. 11, 1994 at the age of 70.
His sons said he would be honored by the tribute
“The community has expressed their interest through the Veterans’ Memorial at the courthouse and now through the banner,” Steve Bradley said, noting that the courthouse monument also bears an Iwo Jima likeness. “People want to honor this and our family supports it.”
In consultations on the design, the Bradleys said it was important that it represent something much more than the actions of a single person.
“We wanted to represent all branches of the military and all veterans who served,” Tom Bradley said. “As a family, we are honored at being a small part of a much larger group.”
The Bradleys commended the finished product, calling it “impressive,” and the attention to details paid by Director of Administrative Services Mark Desotell, along with Parks, Cemetery and Recreation Director Sarah Repp and administrative assistant Julie Zack, who developed the themes of the various banners over the first two years of the program.
The military banners will eventually line Field Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, leading to the Peaceful Valley Park and playground and the city’s new events grounds.
Other banners joining the program this spring include a tribute to the Langlade County Youth Fair, featuring Michael and Scott Hagerty eating corn dogs, and the bald eagle Qushquluk, a survivor of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 who is now an education bird for the Antigo-based Raptor Education Group Inc.
Marge Gibson, executive director of the center, estimates that Qushquluk is now in her 50s, making her one of the oldest known bald eagles in captivity today.
The banners were made by Hayes Graphics of Mosinee. Funding comes through a portion of the city’s Hotel, Motel Room Tax.
In the last two years, 64 new banners have been purchased, along with 34 new Christmas decorations.
Tom, left, and Steve Bradley hold their new city banner honoring the memory of their father, John, who was among the Iwo Jima flag-raisers. A replica of the memorial is at right. It is located in an alcove at the family-owned Bradley Funeral home.