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City looks to honor war heroes along roadways

The City of Hartselle is looking for a way to honor fallen soldiers of the Vietnam War on city roads.

Jerry Berryman and State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, approached the city about renaming a street for Cpl. Johnnie Bruce Sewell, who died in action July 25, 1968, during the conflict.

“I just would like to see his name on a road sign in Hartselle,” Berryman told the City Council during a work session Monday.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley said he wasn’t in favor of renaming a city street, but he did recommend that the city designate one of its roads as a “memorial drive” or a “veterans drive” so that all fallen heroes from wars.

“If we’re going to do it for one, then I think we need to do it for everyone,” Tankersley said.

Councilman Bill Smelser, a fellow Vietnam veteran, asked Berryman whether or not he wanted such a designation to be for all wars or just for the Vietnam War.

“I want it to be just for the Vietnam War,” Berryman said.

Councilman Mark Mizell said he believes the city needs to have a course of action to deal with other residents who might request to have a memorial street for other U.S. conflicts.

“I think we need to be proactive instead of reactive,” Mizell said. “I think we need to have a plan in place so that we’ll be ready when others ask us.”

Councilman Tom Chappell knows that naming things can be a bit tricky, but he feels like having too many names on one memorial could lose its impact. He used the memorial bridges between Hartselle and Decatur as an example.

“You’d probably have to have a memorial 20 feet tall to recognize all of those who gave their lives in the service,” Chappell said. “But when you have only a few names on one sign, it has more of an impact than just a long list of names that you can’t read while driving.”

Tankersley said he would begin investigating the memorial signs and would report to the council at a future meeting.

State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, who attended the meeting with Berryman, said he was willing to help secure funding to pay for the signs.

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