ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday to rename the Route 394 bridge over Interstate 86 in North Harmony the "John Stow Vietnam Veterans and MIA Memorial Bridge."
The North Harmony Town Board acted on the resolution back in March and with the backing of state Sen. Cathy Young, R-C-I-Olean, and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-C-I-Chautauqua County, the legislation recently reached Cuomo's desk.
The bridge naming was part of a package of highway system name changes including state roads in Madison, Erie and Schuyler counties which were also named in honor of fallen veterans, in addition to the North Harmony bridge.
"As Independence Day draws near, it is important for us to reflect on the service and sacrifice made by the men and women of the United States Armed Forces to preserve and protect the freedoms we hold so dear," Cuomo said. "These four young men believed firmly in our country's ideals, and put their lives on the line to defend those principles overseas. This bridge and these newly renamed roads will honor these brave young men, and ensure that their sacrifice is always remembered. I thank the bill sponsors for their efforts, and express my deepest sympathies and gratitude to the families for their loss."
Private First Class Stow was born in Ashville and served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. He was killed Feb. 13, 1968, at the age of 18.
"Marine PFC John L. Stow was killed in action in the Vietnam War in 1968," Young said. "PFC Stow embodies the type of heroic soldier who dedicated his life to the cause of freedom for our great nation, making the ultimate sacrifice. This bridge would memorialize PFC Stow, all soldiers who served in Vietnam, as well as all soldiers that have gone Missing in Action during their military service in our country. Many of our Vietnam Veterans were not given the recognition they deserved when they returned home and this is one way to help correct that injustice. This bill also recognizes all MIA's from every conflict so that their memories are not forgotten."
"Private First Class John L. Stow, a native son of North Harmony, is by all definitions a true hero."
The passing of the legislation did not go unrecognized by Goodell.
"Private First Class John L. Stow, a native son of North Harmony, is by all definitions a true hero," Goodell said. "Though his tour in Vietnam was short, at just 18 years old the dedication and sacrifice he showed on behalf of his fellow Marines embodies the type of heroics that we all should strive to emulate. Now, as we pass over the John Stow Vietnam Veterans and MIA Memorial Bridge, it will serve as a small token of thanks and an ever- present reminder of the cost it takes to keep us free."