SAVANNA – The organizers of a dedication ceremony for the Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge weren’t about to let anything stop them from celebrating the new bridge that spans the Mighty Mississippi and connects the Land of Lincoln with The Hawkeye State.
Not even the fact that the bridge they were celebrating isn’t open yet.
Three days of activities that started Friday were capped off Sunday when local luminaries, family members of the bridge’s namesake, former astronauts, state Rep. Tony McCombie, and others joined Gov. Bruce Rauner to dedicate the $81 million bridge that opened in November but closed in February due to safety issues with an attached causeway.
But the real stars of the show were the veterans the bridge honors, one of whom who couldn’t be there, but who knew a thing or two about stars during his lifetime. After all, he came closer to them than just about everyone gathered for the occasion: the man the bridge was named for, Dale Allan Gardner.