SIDNEY — Stretching above the Great Miami River at Court Street, the bridge that was originally dedicated to the veterans of World War I and World War II in 1946 will get the attention that it deserves at a rededication ceremony on Sept. 1.
Through the efforts of the Shelby County Historical Society, the city of Sidney and the Thomas and Corinne Francis Foundation, a bronze marker will be attached to the bridge once again to notify those who cross it of this bridge’s special function and role in Shelby County history.
The rededication will take place at the Court Street Bridge at 10:30 a.m. with Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, 12th District, offering remarks from the northwest parking lot adjacent to the bridge Also in attendance will be the Shelby County commissioners, the Sidney City Council and Mayor Mike Barhorst, representatives of veterans groups and trustees of the Shelby County Historical Society. The program is open to the public. The bands from Anna, Fairlawn, Houston, Jackson Center, and Sidney high schools will play the national anthem, while an honor guard from the American Legion will make a salute to departed veterans. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will move to the second floor of the Eagles Buildling.
The original dedication had been arranged by Walter Burg, the division engineer of the state highway department under the direction of Perry T. Ford, state director of highways along with John Foster of the American Legion and his committee. The ceremony was marked by a a speech by then Gov. Frank Lausche, a parade headed by the Legion band and including the Legion members and Disabled Veterans that marched from the new American Legion home to the bridge and back again. Also there were all of the city’s Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in uniform. Included in the marching order was Company K Ohio State Guard under Capt. Clyde Millhoff, the Red Cross chapter officials in full uniform. The grand marshal of the parade was Sam Winemiller assisted by Henry Meyer, Hugh Lehman, Robert Gearhart, and Lowell Lovett and overseen by Police Chief William O’Leary. The welcome was given by Mayor W.W. Wheeler, while the invocation was delivered by Rev. J.A. Long. The history of the bridge was offered by E.C. Amos, publisher of the Sidney Daily News. The firing of a final salute to the dead by the Legion firing squad was under the command of Capt. Dan Strohl.
During Gov. Lausche’s speech, delivered from a decorated platform at the end of the bridge, he emphasized that “the steel, cement, and labor required to erect the structure are an embodiment of all that was given by the war dead to preserve the American way of life.” He further emphasized in that 1946 speech that “the living must dedicate themselves to the unfinished task which lies ahead to nurture and guard the victory which was so dearly paid for.” He stressed vigilance “as the watchword in peacetime.”
The original plaque had been presented to honored guest Mrs. Kenneth Ferguson, president of the Sidney Gold Star Mothers. The bronze tablet, later attached by the highway department to the bridge, bore the following inscription: “Dedicated to the memory of those valiants who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country in World War I and World War II, city of Sidney, county of Shelby, state of Ohio, October 13, 1946.”
Interestingly enough, the need for a new bridge at that Court Street location had been recognized as early as 1919, but it was only through the efforts of a group of Sidney residents that the issue was kept alive until the bridge construction that had begun in 1941 was finally completed in June 1946.
The plaque that will replace the missing one bears the same opening inscription but with these additional lines: “Today on September 1, 2015, the residents of the City of Sidney and Shelby County rededicate this bridge in memory of our fellow citizens who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the United States of America.” Additionally, this plaque differs from the original as it bears the emblems of the Shelby County Historical Society and the City of Sidney as well as the names of the Thomas V. and Corrine Francis Family Foundation, who helped to fund the project.
This article was submitted by the Sidney Daily News.