Savanna, Illinois-- The communities of Savanna, Illinois and Sabula, Iowa came together to celebrate the dedication of the new bridge to a local veteran, Dale Gardner.
Gardner grew up in Savanna and went on to serve in the U.S Navy. He also spent time as a mission specialist astronaut for NASA. He spent over fourteen days in space.
"When you have a bridge dedicated to your honor this is something that is going to last forever. I wanted the people here who knew him as a child to understand the man he grew up to be," said Robert Stewart. Stewart knew Gardner from NASA. He drove all the way from Alabama to honor his friend.
"I was just glad to get a chance to both honor my friend Dale and the veterans that fought with me in Vietnam," said Stewart.
"While he would have undoubtedly refused to allow such recognition for himself. My family is overwhelmed by this incredible gesture," said Lisa Gardner. Lisa is Dale's daughter. She had a hard time getting through her speech because how much the dedication meant to her.
Especially because of the day the bridge dedication falls on. "I just wish I could tell him Happy Father's Day," said Gardner.
The bridge will be called the Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial bridge, but it honors all those who have served.
"Today we take this very special bridge and we permanently dedicate it to the veterans of the United States of America," said Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner and representative Tony McCombie both made appearances at the ceremony.
The bridge isn't open for vehicles yet but everyone felt it was important to continue with the dedication.
"Everybody builds on some other foundation and to be building on the foundation of someone like Dale Gardner you have a pretty steady, firm foundation.