A Web-Site of "HomeTown Tributes" . . .

A Photographic Tribute to America's HomeTowns and their People . . . throughout the Decades



An Open Letter

to each of

America's HomeTown Mayors

in each of our

50 Great States


A Web-Site that Showcases . . . Pays Tribute to,

and Permanently Preserves the Photographic Heritage of

America's Hometowns, and the History of its People

of Today, from throughout the Decades, and for Tomorrow !


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A Web-Site where every Current & Former Resident

in your Town

can actually Participate in the Creation

of Your Town’s own

"HomeTown Tribute"




Stephen Van Hecke

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World's oldest known surviving aerial Town Photo of Boston, MA - circa - 1860


America's First Known HomeTown Photo - Location unknown - circa 1848



Our 50

State Capital


. . . Today

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Juneau, AK
Montgomery, AL
Little Rock, AR
Hartford, CT
Dover, DE
Tallahassee, FL
Atlanta, GA
Honolulu, HI
DesMoines, IA


( l- r ) Then, Lt. Governor ( now Governor ) Phil Bryant, myself & ( then) State FEMA Director J. K. Stringer - Hurricane Gustav Evacuation - Jackson, MS - Sept. 4, 2008


Boise, ID
Springfield, IL
Indianapolis, IN
Topeka, KS
Frankfort, KY
Augusta, ME
St. Paul, MN
Helena, MT
Raleigh, NC
Bismark, ND
Lincoln, NB
Concord, NH
Trenton, NJ
Santa Fe, NM
Carson City, NV
Albany, NY
Columbus, OH
Oklahoma City, OK
Salem, OR
Harrisburg, PA
Providence, RI
Columbia, SC
Pierre, SD
Nashville, TN
Austin, TX
Salt Lake City, UT
Richmond, VA
Montpelier, VT
Olympia, WA
Madison, WI
Charleston, WV
Cheyenne, WY








Dear Town Mayor, Town Committee Members,

and other Town Officials;


Please let me introduce myself. My name is Stephen Van Hecke, and I'm the Author of this Web-Site. I am writing this Open Letter to You, as Town Mayor, and to each of the 36,000 + other Mayors to introduce You to this Web-Site. I want to, also, Thank You, for taking these few minutes of your day to read this Letter.

Just as it is with the uniqueness of your State, every Town in every State has its own unique History and Heritage. And, by creating individualized "HomeTown Tributes", this One-of-its-Kind Web-Site Pays Tribute to that special, and that One-of-its-Kind History and Heritage for each one of America's HomeTowns, and of their People , . . . of Today, from throughout the Decades, and for Tomorrow.

This Web-Site with its individual"HomeTown Tributes" is actually FOR every Resident who lives in your Town. Every Town Mayor, as well as, every Current and Former Resident can actually participate in the creation of a "HomeTown Tribute" for your own Town. With just a Click Photos can be uploaded onto the "HomeTown Tribute" for Your Town.

Each "HomeTown Tribute", also, Permanently Preserves FROM all natural disasters - whether it be fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane. It Preserves a Town's Photographic Heritage FOR Tomorrow's Town Residents. It will Preserve your Town's priceless Photographic Heritage, and that same priceless Photographic Heritage of Towns throughout America.

For 160 years, since the very first Photograph, the hard-copy Photographic Memories of America's Families have been pressed onto the pages of each of their Family Photo Albums. And, throughout all of those same 160 Years, the Photographic Heritage of America's HomeTowns has typically hung on the walls, and in the display cases ( collecting dust ) of our Town Hall, at our Fire Stations, and Police Headquarters, in our Town Library, and, probably a lot, stuffed in the file drawers of our Town's local Historical Society.

My hat is off to those individuals in each of our Towns whose responsibility it is to decide what to 'display', and what to 'store' of our Towns entire Photographic Heritage. That Person has to decide what to display and make physically available to its Towns Residents. What to put on display. And, where to display it ? Hang it, in a frame on a wall, probably, in that Town's City Hall building, and in that Town's downtown area.

Every One of America's Towns knows the Importance to that Town for an on-going committment to 'Photographically Chronicle' the on-going 'life' of their Town through the Decades. That on-going committment is made to Each of that Towns Current Residents, as well as, to Each of those Future Residents coming to that Town during the Decades to-be.

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Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
Denver, CO


Every Photograph surely does capture a Moment in Time, while at the same Time, that Photo, also, Preserves for all Time . . . a 'Memory'.

And yet, for 160 years since that very first Photo was taken every one of those priceless, photographic 'Memories' has been vulnerable to being lost by natural disaster, whether it be from fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane. They are vulnerable because they are a 'hard-copy' of that 'Memory'.

Until NOW . . .

with this Web-Site - HomeTownMemories.ORG, and with its unique "HomeTown Tributes" for America's HomeTowns !

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For Every Town in Every State

For any Town, for its Residents themselves, as well as, for the Town itself, it may seem overwhelming having to face the painful effects, the physical destruction, the loss of property, and so much personal tragedy for that Town as the result of a natural disaster.

A Town, as a result of such a disaster, often, may loss some or perhaps all of its own Photographic Heritage. . . the entire Photographic pictures of their previous Mayors that used to hang on the Town Hall wall . . . of other Town Officials . . . photos of the Town itself growing and changing through the years . . . of its Residents and their every-day lives in their HomeTown.

It was because of such a disaster - Hurricane Katrina - that motivated me in Jan., 2008 to move to Mississippi so I could in whatever way I could help the small Gulf Coast Town of Bay Saint Louis. I had seen a CNN Docmentary about Kathleen Koch, then the White House Correspondent for CNN. She had travelled back to Bay Saint Louis with a camera crew to show what had happened to her childhood HomeTown as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Although much of the national news had been focused on New Orleans, the eye of Katrina had passed through Bay Saint Lous, and its neighbor to the east, Pass Christian . . . which was, interestingly, the childhood HomeTown of Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America.

I ended up making that small Gulf Coast Town of Bay Saint Louis my Home for 2 1/2 years. And, while there I learned that, indeed, they had lost much of their Town's Photographic Heritage. Both the Town itself, as well as, so many of the family photo albums of that Town's Residents. The countless Photos of their family, and of their HomeTown throughout the years.

Fortunately, a fair amount of their Photographic Heritage had been stored in a walk-in vault. So, all of those Photos were saved. And, those Photos had been in that vault for many years.

Fortunately Safe ( in a vault ) . . . but certainly not accessable to the Current or Former Residents of Bay Saint Louis, MS.

Or, not very accessable to anyone else curious about that small, charming, friendly, fishing, and very artsy Mississippi Gulf Coast Town.

A Side Note. While living in Bay Saint Louis, I and many other residents without our own transportation were evacuated by school bus north to the State Coliseum in Jackson for 3 days while Hurricane Gustav blew through the southern part of Mississippi. Sleeping on a cot side by side with hundreds of others, and eating boxed meals 3 times a day was a unique experience. While there, Mississippi's Lt. Governor, Phil Bryant with his FEMA Director came to the Coliseum to see how everyone was doing. I decided to go over and introduce myself and mention why I had come to Bay Saint Louis from my home in Hew Jersey. Had a nice conversation with him, and then he asked if his aid could take a picture. That's it to the right. He is now Mississippi's Governor.

A very Interesting and Rewarding 2 1/2 Years.


Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
Denver, CO

"HomeTown Tributes"

It Compliments a Town's own official Web-Site

One of the primary Goals for this Web-Site from the beginning has been to make sure that each "HomeTown Tribute" created for one of America's Towns would compliment and enhance the official web-site for each of those Towns that wished to participate. That meant that the "HomeTown Tribute" for each Town on this Web-Site must in NO way compete with, or replace the importance of each Town's own official Site. It must only 'add to' the value of their own Web-Site.

During the early design stages while developing the layout and content for what each "HomeTown Tribute" should look like for a Town, it was important to know what the typical official web-site for a Town looked like, and what information it provided to those who were visiting that web-site. To find that out, the official web-sites for many, many Towns - large, medium and small - were visited and reviewed in every one of the 50 States.

From that review, I knew I wanted each Town's "HomeTown Tribute" to include the photo of the current Mayor ( which most official Town web-sites did have ), and then, add to that with photos of the current Fire and Police Chiefs ( which most did not have ). It would have a brief History of their Town, and, if available, would include images of their Town Flag and Seal.

There would be 15-20 Photos of what their Town actually looks like, today. I found that the official sites for lots of smaller Towns, and this is, I'm sure, due to the web expense that would be involved, did not have photos (past or present) of their Town. I wanted each "HomeTown Tribute" to, also, Pay Tribute ( with Photos and Names ) to their Town's Former Mayors, Fire Chiefs, and Police Chiefs - those Individuals Who have Served, and those Who have Protected their Town . . . over the years and from throughout the Decades.

And, very importantly, there should be a Page that would Honor Those from their Town Who have 'Died in the Line of Duty' - whether in the Military, or in their Fire and/or Police Departments, and again . . . from throughout the Decades.

To show that each Town's "HomeTown Tribute" on this Web-Site does NOT, in fact, compete with, or intends to replace their own official web-site, a direct Link to their Town's Official Web-Site is included along with other Links ( their County's and local Chamber's W-S ), and can be found on the introductory "Our HomeTown . . . Today" 'Feature Section' on their's, and on every "HomeTown Tribute".

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NOTE: A Sample of this commitment can be seen by Clicking below on "Visit Your State's "HomeTown Tributes".






Baton Rouge, LA
Boston, MA
Annapolis, MD


And so , with Dayton as America's FIRST "HomeTown Tribute" . . .

Which American HomeTown will be . . .

NEXT ? ?

Imagine . . . hundreds of Towns throughout America in all of the 50 States within the first year ( just 1% of over 36,000 Cities and Towns in America is already 360 Towns ). Each Town with their own "HomeTown Tribute" and 10 distinctive 'Feature Sections' Showcasing and Paying Tribute to the History and Heritage of over 360 Towns, and their People ( It's Possible in just 12 Months ).

Imagine . . . a Web-Site where all you have to do is just Click to any State, and then, to a Town . . . from State to State, from Town to Town, browsing from "HomeTown Tribute" to "HomeTown Tribute" . A Web-Site so very Easy to navigate because the format is the very same for every 'Feature Section' that make up every "HomeTown Tribute", and, the same for every Town.

As you're browsing through the 10'Feature Sections' of Dayton's "HomeTow n Tribute". . . Just Imagine . . . that you're browsing through the '"Home Town Tribute" for your own HomeTown. One of the 36,000 American HomeTowns!









Your Ideas and Support for this Web-Site

Thank You, again, Governor . . .

for taking these few minutes to learn about this One-of-a-Kind Web-Site.

I ask that You visit the various Informational Pages below. Each one gives greater detail on how the "HomeTown Tributes" will pay tribute to the Towns and their People of your State, how those Towns can take advantage of the Special Introductory OFFER, and, how each "HomeTown Tributes" will permanently preserve the photographic Heritage for each of those Towns. You'll, also, be able to see what a "HomeTown Tribute" will actually look like for the Towns in your State.

I hope with your's and your Staff's review, You will agree that this Web-Site, as it grows, will allow visitors throughout your State, America, and the World to browse through the many "HomeTown Tributes" for the Towns of your State, each one Paying Tribute to, and permanently Preserving the History and Photographic Heritage of those Towns, of their People and, indeed, of the HomeTown Life in your State.

I am asking, through the Gravitas of your Office, if You would reach out to those State Offices and Agencies that You think will want to know about this Web-Site, and the opportunity that it offers to the Towns in your State. As mentioned above, I have addressed Open Letters to your State's Chamber of Commerce and Municipal Association asking each of these important state-wide Organizations, based on their advocacy for their Members, that they would reach out to their Members to visit this Web-Site for possible consideration. I hope that You would be willing to, also, reach out to these 2 important Organizations in your State on behalf of this Web-Site.


Thank You for your Interest and your consideration. If You or your Staff have any questions, please give me a call.

Stephen Van Hecke

Cell - 908-721-7321

E-mail - SVanHecke@HomeTownMemories.ORG





Browsing through the Pages of





America's 50 State Capital HomeTowns