When Sgt. Dillon Christopher Baldridge was killed June 10, 2017, at the age of 22 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, a large part of the High Country died with him.

This was attested to by his funeral — one of the largest and most-attended by those from Ashe and Watauga counties who knew him or of him, who knew his mother, Tina Palmer, or his family.

This week, just 10 days past the two-year anniversary of Baldridge’s death comes an honor — a fitting if incomplete honor.

Fitting because the dedication of the Sgt. Dillon Baldridge Bridge at the interchange of U.S. 221 and U.S. 421 in Deep Gap means that scores of travelers and local residents will see his name and be reminded of his sacrifice. But incomplete because no honor could ever fulfill what a grateful nation, state, county or town owes its warriors who make that ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

The dedication ceremony Thursday, June 20, rightly paid tribute to an American hero. Now, each of us has an opportunity to continue that tribute as we pass the junction which bears his name.

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