Community members gathered Oct. 16 to honor the life and service of a 19-year-old Byron man by designating a portion of Illinois Route 72 as “Lance Cpl. Alec E. Catherwood Memorial Road.”
Three northwestern Illinois lawmakers – State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and State Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) – sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 34 to designate the portion of Illinois Route 72 from the south side of the bridge in Byron to the Ogle/DeKalb County line as “Lance Cpl. Alec E. Catherwood Memorial Road.”
“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,” Sen. Bivins said. “We can’t pretend to know what these Gold Star families go through. We offer our sympathies and our prayers and our thoughts to them. And we can designate these roads to allow people, especially our young people, to ask the question: ‘Who is this road named for?’ We can carry on their memory. One thing we can do is honor their memory.”
“Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood is a hero. We dedicate this stretch of highway in his memory so that our community will forever be reminded of his life and of his sacrifice,” Rep. Demmer said. “His memory lives on in the hearts of his family, friends, and community—and this dedication will help him live on for every person who drives by for years to come.”
“It is truly an honor to rename a portion of IL Route 72 after Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, who dedicated his life to serving our country bravely,” said Rep. Stewart. “This is a small tribute to his memory even though no action could ever fully repay him or his family for making the ultimate sacrifice.”
Alec Catherwood was born May 6, 1991, in Heilbronn, Germany, to Kirk and Gretchen Catherwood. He was a 2009 graduate of Byron High School and a member of the Future Farmers of America. He was also a Boy Scout and had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
He enjoyed athletics, four-wheeling, mudding in his truck, shooting his shotgun, and spending time with his family, his fiancée, and his friends.
Lance Cpl. Catherwood was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, California. He passed away on Oct. 14, 2010, while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Catherwood earned many personal service awards, including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Korean Defense Service Medal.
Lance Cpl. Catherwood is survived by his parents; his sister, Mikaela (Lance Cpl. Matthew, USMC) Montgomery; his fiancée, Hailey Patrick; his maternal grandparents, Donald and Mary Ernst; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Senate Joint Resolution 34 asks the Illinois Department of Transportation to erect at suitable locations, consistent with state and federal regulations, appropriate plaques or signs giving notice of the name of Lance Cpl. Alec E. Catherwood Memorial Road.
In presenting Senate Joint Resolution 34 for a vote in the Senate on May 31, Sen. Bivins quoted a portion of President Ronald Reagan’s speech at a Veterans Day ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 1985:
“…. most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their county, for us. And all we can do is remember.”
Senate Joint Resolution 34 was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Senate on May 31 and a unanimous vote of the House of Representatives on June 29.