A part of Illinois Route 59 could soon be renamed in honor of a soldier from Plainfield who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
The Illinois House of Representatives earlier this month unanimously passed a joint resolution introduced by State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, to rename the portion of Route 59 between Caton Farm Road and Route 126 as the “PFC Andrew Meari Memorial Highway,” according to a news release.
Meari, 21, was on patrol when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle approached his group. When he saw the threat, Meari stepped toward the bomber and absorbed the majority of the explosion, protecting his squad mates. The bomb killed one other member of his team.
Speaking on the House floor, Batincik said the resolution was “difficult to introduce, knowing it honors a fallen soldier who grew up near to where I lived.”
Meari’s mother, Denise Williams, said such honors were meaningful for the families of fallen soldiers.
“They’re ordinary people that went off and did something extraordinary,” she said.
Williams said Meari was her only child and that he had an “incredible sense of humor” which belied his intelligence. She said he had a knack for learning new languages and was fluent in Arabic.
“He was always looking for fun,” she said.
Williams said her son wanted to be a soldier since he was about 4 years old when the family traveled to Washington, D.C. There he saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
From that moment, she said, Meari “never deviated” from his plans to join the military, especially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Since her son’s death, Williams said she’s connected with other families who’ve lost a loved one in battle and has advocated for ways to honor those killed in action.
“My world is filled with heroes,” she said of the families. “These are the most loving, compassionate, resilient humans that you could possibly imagine. We have survived the worst thing a human being can.”
The resolution to rename part of Route 59 for Meari headed to the Senate with the support of Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood.
“It was a privilege to recognize the life of Private First Class Andrew Meari, an incredible young man who selflessly gave his life in an act of heroism,” Batinick said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle