A recent request by state Rep. Bob Hackett to name a London street in memory of Marine Lance Corporal Josh McDaniels stirred debate at London City Council on Thursday, April 17.
McDaniels, a London High School graduate, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. His name is among those carved into the Madison County Veterans Memorial at the courthouse.
Council designated a small bridge on Amherst Drive in McDaniels’ memory in 2012, but no sign appeared.
Hackett attended council’s April 3 meeting to say the state will provide signage for a city street that memorializes McDaniels. The street must also be a state highway.
Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, who represents Madison County as part of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, to re-name the London Post Office in McDaniels’ memory stalled in committee.
Hackett said a London street designation will satisfy the McDaniels family’s desire for a memorial.
Other veterans — primarily Vietnam War veterans and their families — protested any effort to single out McDaniels for honors. Their comments lit up Facebook and drew calls to The Madison Press after April 3.
On Thursday, council president Pat Closser read a letter from former city resident Janie Johnson that urged a memorial to all London service members killed in battle. Tom Johnson, also a London High School graduate and Janie’s brother, died fighting in Vietnam in 1969.
“I am not downplaying the (McDaniels’) sacrifice,” she wrote. “I understand the McDaniels’ family grief. I’ve carried the same grief since July 4, 1969.”
Council member Jason Schwaderer said naming one street for one soldier opened a “Pandora’s box” of trouble for the city.
“Everybody’s going to want a street named after them,” Schwaderer said.
Closser said the Downtown London Association recently discussed designating a city street as a “Veterans Memorial Drive,” with overhead banners memorializing all soldiers and conflicts.
Closser said $750 remaining in a city “flag fund” could pay for the banners. Former council president John Dixon, a Vietnam War veteran, donated the money last year.
Council member Roger Morris noted other private donations could supplement the $750.
Safety-services director Steve Hume said discussions by the Downtown London Association are merely in the formative stage.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.