Heroes Way dedication ceremony scheduled for May 22

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A ceremony dedicating a memorial for fallen soldiers is scheduled for May 22.

The Heroes Way Interstate Interchange Program honors those who died while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq on or after Sept. 11, 2001, with signs erected bearing their name at interstate interchanges.

Four Southeast Missouri soldiers will be honored with signs at Interstate 55 interchanges. They are Staff Sgt. Brad Skelton of Gordonville, whose sign will be placed at exit 96; Cpl. Jeremy Shank of Jackson, whose sign will be near the East Main Street-LaSalle Avenue interchange, exit 102; Sgt. Robert Davis of Jackson, whose sign will be near Fruitland, exit 105; and Spc. Blake Hall of East Prairie, Mo., whose sign will be at exit 58, near Matthews, Mo.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Jackson Armory, 224 W. Park St.

Ross Gartman, a Delta businessman and former member of the Missouri National Guard, said he is amazed at how the idea to rename the Jackson Armory after Skelton in 2008 grew into what is the Heroes Way program.

"Everything takes time, and believe me it's all worth it now," said Gartman, who served alongside Skelton in the National Guard. "I'm ready for the ceremony to come so I can head down the interstate to see each of the signs up."

Since Feb. 6, Gartman and others have organized efforts to raise money to fund the $2,200 fee required to cover the cost for maintenance and the two signs placed alongside an exit near the fallen soldier's hometown. Nearly $14,000 has been raised from fundraisers and organizations

Gartman hopes to form a not-for-profit organization to manage the funds, which will cover the costs for the maintenance and erection of signs for more than 100 other servicemen and women in the state who would qualify under the program's guidelines.

He said a website will be launched with information about donating to the cause.

"The ceremony is like looking toward the finish line of a race," Gartman said. "... There is still more of the race to run."

Donations to the program may be dropped off at Gordonville Grill; checks payable to the Jackson Jaycees Charitable Foundation may be mailed to 829 State Highway Z, Gordonville, MO 63752.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent addresses:

224 W. Park St., Jackson, MO

829 Highway Z, Gordonville, MO

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