Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Highway for A Hero

Legislation offered to name highways in Coweta, Walton for fallen soldier

Published 3/6/06


"All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women of our armed forces who risk their lives in the defense of freedom and to secure the blessings of liberty for this nation and other peoples of the world," Senate Resolution 639 and Senate Resolution 864 proclaim in honor of the late Sgt. Mike Stokely and all of the others willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Senate Resolution 639 would dedicate a strip of roadway to the fallen soldier. The portion, which would bear the name "Sgt. Mike Stokely Memorial Highway," would stretch from U.S. Highway 54 from the Fayette County line to its intersection with U.S. Highway 16. The resolution has been passed by Georgia's Senate and is currently pending in the House.

Resolution 864 would dedicate a span of highway to Stokely from U.S. Highway 81 in Walton County from its intersection with U.S. 78, which runs straight through Mike's hometown of Loganville, to the Newton County Line.

"To my knowledge, two separate highways have never been named for one person," said Coweta County's Solicitor Robert Stokely of the ongoing accomplishments of his son six months after he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq at the age of 23.

Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg), sponsor of SR 639, suggested the dedication idea to Stokely about two weeks after Mike's death Aug. 16, 2005.

"At first I had to think about it and talk to Niki [Mike's widow] and the family because I was worried that it might take on the wrong appearance, and Mike didn't serve and do what he did to get a highway named after him," said Stokely.

After considering it from Mike's perspective, he decided that it would at least "call attention to the service of others that continue to make the daily sacrifice," he said.

It was Sen. John Douglas, who represents Newton and part of both Henry and Walton counties, who worked together with Seabaugh to propose the resolutions.

Stokely and his family are now waiting for the resolution to be passed in the House and be signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. They have no timeline beyond the possible acceptance or any idea what to expect for the potential dedication.

"I would like for it to be sometime in early summer when his fellow soldiers and immediate platoon can attend. This needs to be as much for them as it is for the Stokelys. They didn't get to see what was done for us and for Mike, and I want them to have the opportunity to come and see what Georgia does for its fallen soldiers. I also want them to have a chance for people to clap for them the way they have for Mike Stokely."

Both of the strips of highway that may soon bear Mike's name have special meaning to his family.

The strip on Highway 54 holds a special place in Stokely's heart because one day in late November 2004 the entire family visited the Line Creek nature trail for some family photographs. It is the spot where the picture of Stokely was taken that has now been distributed nationwide.

"When I cross Line Creek, I always think about that day," said Stokely. "I hope others will think about the sacrifice of all the soldiers."

The second strip of highway runs by Corinth Cemetery in Loganville -- Mike's final resting place.

"These last six months my family and I have spent an awful lot of time up there; when I travel that road now I think about this time or that time with Mike and wonder how I went from a car seat to a casket in 20 years."

Niki now owns and operates a tanning salon in Loganville that sits on the highway that might be named for her late husband in the near future. Her business is also coincidentally within walking distance from Mike's grave.

"This resolution points to the dangers our soldiers must face, and Coweta has gotten roughed up in this war," said Stokely.

"It will take some getting used to -- to ride down the road and see a sign with a Stokely name. But those two signs and a grave are the period at the end of the sentence. We're in re-runs now for the rest of our lives; and, for me, that will never be enough."

I'm glad they will be honoring him this way. Good for them!

Speaking of honoring heroes... don't forget about "Operation: Honor A Hero"

please visit HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Georgia Blogger