By Pastor Mark Hopper
I love history and biographies. I enjoy learning about the lives of people and their journeys through life. It is fascinating to learn how a road or a street got its name. Recently I was driving down a major road in Scottsdale, Arizona and the saw a sign on a side street named “Joe Foss Way”. I suspect that very few drivers even notice the street and even fewer know who Joe Foss was. But I actually saw Joe Foss at Scottsdale Bible Church when I was a teenager.
Joe Foss was the first American Ace in the Pacific in World War Two. He was a cigar smoking, hard drinking fighter pilot who was the first American to shot down five Japanese planes in the war. After the war his life changed dramatically when he became a Christian. He was elected Governor of South Dakota and was one of the people featured in Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation.
There is another road that you will see along Interstate Five between Los Angeles and San Diego. If you watch carefully you will see a sign that reads, John Basilone Memorial Highway. This sign is near the Marine Base at Camp Pendleton.
I did not know anything about John Basilone until I watched the HBO series about World War Two in the Pacific. I learned that John Basilone fought in the bloody battles on Guadalcanal in the south Pacific in 1942. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery in the brutal combat against the Japanese.
He came home to a hero’s welcome but decided to dedicate himself to training other Marines for future combat. Instead of just training them he decided lead his fellow Marines in the landings on Iwo Jima in 1945. In the midst of this terrible combat, John Basilone was killed. The nation was stunned that a Medal of Honor recipient would go back into battle with his fellow Marines and give his life to help win the war.
These are just two examples. There are countless streets and highways that bear the names of men and women who have been recognized for their service and sacrifice in the military and in public safety. Let me encourage you to research some of the names that you see along the streets and highways in your community. You will be glad you did!
This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper of Efree Church of Diamond Bar. Sunday Services are held at 9:00 am & 10:45 am at 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. You can contact the church at 909.594.7604 or visit them online at Efreedb.org