From now on, when motorists drive on New Highway 68 over Interstate 75 in Sweetwater, they will travel on the Clinton Riddle Bridge.
It’s only fitting the bridge that now bears Riddle’s name, will be the first thing many people see when they come to Sweetwater off the interstate.
On Friday, Aug. 9, family members, state and local officials, a throng of media and many well wishers gathered at the bridge to celebrate its dedication in Riddle’s name. The 98-year-old World War II veteran was all smiles soaking in the adulation a hero of his status deserves.
Mayor Doyle Lowe and the Sweetwater City Commission had passed a resolution requesting the bridge be named after Riddle. State Sen. Mike Bell and State Rep. Lowell Russell steered their request through Nashville making the dedication on Friday possible.
“What a day it is because we are making history because the bridge will forever be named the Clinton Riddle Bridge,” Lowe said. “I don’t have to tell you what he means to Sweetwater.”
Lowe said Riddle is the living definition of the word “hero.”
He thanked Bell and Russell, who both attended the event. County Mayor Mitch Ingram presented a replica of the bridge sign to Riddle and his family. Sweetwater Police Chief Eddie Byrum and Fire Chief Doug Watson unveiled the actual bridge sign to close the ceremony.
Riddle survived some of the most famous campaigns and battles in the war, including the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He returned home to little fanfare in 1945 and pastored several churches and raising a family.
In June, he went back to France for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
At Friday’s dedication, Riddle sat quietly with smile on his face while old friends gathered around to congratulate him. A veil of clouds fortunately took some of the edge off the August heat.
When asked if he was happy to have a bridge named after him, Riddle said with true modestly, “I don’t know what else could be done.”
The sacrifices of Riddle and other Americans during the war assured the United States would become the nation it is today while liberating millions around the world. When the dedication ceremony ended, those in attendance crossed over the Clinton Riddle Bridge.
Riddle was once again providing safe passage home.