The Veterans Memorial Bridge Lobby

When you think about it, it isn’t strange that military imagery and symbolism play such a big role in everyday American life. After all those invasions and threats from Canada and Mexico, the reality of a war-struck way of life is never far away. The US is in two wars, mind you. Being in so many wars means there are a lot of veterans. Veterans should have a special place in society: they risked more than the rest of us, and that should be honored. You may ask yourself: is there such a thing as too much honor?

I mean, the pizza we had last week was delicious, but I have yet to christen my kitchen cabinets the 'Papa John's Kitchen Cabinet'.

I mean, the pizza we had last week was delicious, but I have yet to christen my kitchen cabinets the ‘Papa John’s Kitchen Cabinet’.

Well, if you ask me, veterans have gone a bridge too far this time. When the new river crossing from Missouri to Illinois was announced, two veterans started working on a petition to name the new bridge the ‘Veterans Memorial Bridge’, in a not-so-subtle attempt to honor veterans. I’m not against that. I rebel against their lack of creativity. You see, there already is a Veterans Memorial Bridge. And a Veterans Memorial Drive. Also, you can find a Veterans Memorial Park, a Veterans Memorial Amphitheater, a Veterans Memorial Museum and a Veterans Memorial Pond. The old bridge spanning the Mississippi is called the Martin Luther King Bridge. No need to bring that up, you might think, but it is formerly called the Veterans Memorial Bridge.


Clearly, the Veterans Memorial Bridge Lobby is a strong one. First of all, it is very easy to gather signatures for a name suggestion, as there are plenty of veterans around. I bet finding people willing to support the ‘Cover Mayor Slay in Tar and Feathers Bridge’ is a lot harder*. Second, nobody wants to vote down honoring veterans (even for creativity reasons), so there’s a good chance every bridge in this state will soon be called Veterans Memorial Bridge. But that isn’t the end of the story. Even though the name “Jerry F. Costello-William Lacy ‘Bill’ Clay Sr. Veterans Memorial Bridge” was voted down (probably by those who read traffic in the mornings), another name soon popped up. Stan Musial passed away just before the naming happened, and so from February on, the Musial bridge is part of my morning radio routine. Of course it’s middle name is Veterans Memorial, but who ever remembers a middle name?

*Hypothetical example. I do not want to cover Mayor Slay in tar and feathers, nor do I wish for anyone else to do so.


9 thoughts on “The Veterans Memorial Bridge Lobby

  1. It would perhaps be nicer to name things after a specific set of Veterans, a particular platoon or division perhaps rather than dedicating everything to all and sundry…naturally, they are fighting for the country as a whole, but it is far nicer to commemorate those who fought for their immediate communities, in my opinion. I think it has a greater impact as it is far more personal – local people are bound to be related to a veteran remembered that way or they may have business connections of sorts with them. It brings, if you like, war to each and every door step and reminds us all how lucky we are that there are people in our immediate neighbourhood prepared to fight to keep everyone safe.

    A great observation, thanks for this thought-provoking post.

    • I was really thinking the same thing. Honor the heroes for their specific actions: why not name bridges and highways after medal of honor recipients? And teachers of the year, and random civilians who should be rewarded for their deeds…

      • Well, I guess many teachers in inner city schools are also taking their lives into their own hands…with those knife-wielding toddlers one reads about frequently. Veteran teachers…yes, that might work as a bridge naming concept:)

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