Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard was the guest speaker at the Broad Avenue Bridge decommissioning ceremony conducted by the SWGA Veterans Coalition Saturday morning at Riverfront Park.
ALBANY — A symbolic farewell to the Broad Avenue Bridge Saturday was also a promise to remember the World War I veterans to whom it is dedicated.
Mostly attended by veterans of more recent wars and local dignitaries such as U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard the Saturday send-off was a dignified affair befitting those who have served and died.
“Thanks to those who served our country,” Hubbard said. “We are here to honor those to whom the bridge was dedicated 92 years ago.”
In 1920, the bridge was dedicated to the veterans who had just fought in what was known as “The Great War” that ended Nov. 11, 1918, now honored as Veterans Day.
After nearly 100 years, the bridge faces demolition because the Flint River eroded the bridge footing. The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to build a new bridge re-dedicating it to the veterans.
The last American World War I veteran, 110-year-old Frank Buckles died Feb. 27, 2011. The last veteran of the war in the world, 110-year-old Florence Green of Great Britain died Feb. 4.
“And now there are no more left except in memory or memorials,” said Paul B. Murray, Southwest Georgia Veterans Coalition chairman. “The Broad Avenue Bridge is one of those memorials.”
When the new bridge is built it will carry the memorial plaques from the old bridge that state, “As the enduring expression of a community’s pride and gratitude, this bridge was erected A.D. 1920 as a memorial to those who went from Dougherty County to serve their country in the Great War.”
As part of the new dedication plans call for the new bridge to be dedicated to all veterans from Albany and Dougherty County.
“People sometimes don’t think that people care about veterans,” said Jimmy Peterson, a Vietnam War veteran. “This shows that people really do care.”
The crowd at the farewell on the field behind the Bridge House on Front Street heard a 21-cannon salute and the Marine Corps Band played an echo version of “Taps” with two buglers hitting the heartfelt notes.
The Marine Corps is disbanding the local Marine band in an apparent cost-saving move. Judging from the rounds of spontaneous applause during its program the band will be missed.