Gilmore someone we all can be proud of

Published 6:43pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Things that start out innocent and simple sometimes turn out to be complicated and divisive. When I proposed naming the new bridge spanning Valley Creek, it never occurred to me a war hero would be subjected to a random competition naming contest.

Who would not be proud of a bridge named in honor of Commander Gilmore? The statement was made “someone we all can be proud of.” If Commander Gilmore doesn’t fit that description, I’m not sure there is anyone. Commander Gilmore gave his life for everyone without reservations. What more could a human being do? The opportunities and freedom we enjoy as Americans are due to men like him. To me, this sets him apart from ordinary Americans, and also the fact he is among the most highly decorated servicemen of WWII according to the March issue of VFW magazine. Is this disrespect of our war heroes coming from the public schools, institutes of higher education or just plain bad manners?

Anyone who ever wore the uniform after taking a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend this great country will understand my indignation. If you have never served, all of this is probably lost on you. Service personnel become the property of the government. You pledge your life, if necessary, to defend and protect our country which includes every person in it. Commander Gilmore paid that high price for liberty.

I never intended to subject Commander Howard W. Gilmore’s good name and character to a public contest. The very idea is insulting to his service and ultimate sacrifice for the American people. Commander Gilmore was an officer and gentleman of the U.S. Navy proudly serving his country during wartime. He took tremendous pride in his service, his ship and his men. I cannot speak for him, but do speak in defense of him in saying he stands alone and above reproach, if any man does. I do not believe he would be interested in some public contest involving his name for any bridge in Selma. As a matter of fact, except for a plaque at Memorial Stadium–most likely privately funded–he has been ignored by the City of Selma for 70 years. Selma doesn’t deserve Commander Gilmore’s name on anything. Therefore, out of respect for Commander Gilmore, I withdraw his name from contention in this dubious contest.

I truly regret bringing a man the statue of Commander Gilmore up to be affronted in such a manner. I also regret suggesting naming the bridge giving others ideas. In the future, I will restrict my recognition crusade for Commander Gilmore to state projects not connected to this district.

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