A fallen marine from Byron can now lead and guide people for years onward, thanks to a highway dedication in his name.
A section of Ill. 72 from the south side of the bridge in Byron, to the Ogle/DeKalb County line, was dedicated Monday afternoon as the “Lance Corporal Alec E. Catherwood Memorial Road.”
The dedication took place in a small parking lot north of River Road, just west of the intersection of Ill. 72 and North German Church Road.
Catherwood died Oct. 14, 2010, in combat while serving the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. The 19-year-old was part of the marines 3/5 Darkhorse Unit.
He earned several service awards, including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Korean Defense Service Medal.
He graduated from Byron High School in 2009.
State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) served as a master of ceremonies for the presentation. He, along with State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), State Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport), and Byron Mayor Tom Palmgren, praised Catherwood. Pastor Randy Snyder, who is the Byron Fire Department’s Chaplain and pastor of Cornerstone Family Church in Byron, gave the benediction.
“As lawmakers, as citizens of Illinois, and as fellow Americans, we pay tribute to brave young soldiers like Alec Catherwood who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the service to their country,” Bivins said. “We cannot take away your pain, nor can we even truly understand it, but we can honor your son and make sure everyone knows his name.”
A replica of the sign being posted at the memorial road was given to Alec’s parents Kirk and Gretchen Catherwood.
They currently live in Springville, Tennessee, but lived in Byron until 2012.
The Patriot Guard Riders were also in attendance, surrounding the ceremony with American flags, and escorted the Catherwoods to the official hanging of the road sign.
The Catherwoods expressed deep gratitude to all who attended the ceremony, and who spoke kind words for their son.
“My son can die twice; the day he actually died, and the moment people stop saying his name,” said Kirk. “I can’t express how much this means to me, that he’ll now be recognized, by name, for generations.”