On the eve of the 88th commemoration of Veterans Day, Senator Jim Alesi (R-Perinton) and Assemblymember Susan John (D-Rochester, Chili, Riga, Rush, Wheatland) officially dedicated the bridge over Scottsville-Chili Road (State Route 386) as the "James E. Widener Memorial Bridge".
Along side friends and family members, Alesi and John helped bring a lasting tribute to the local resident who upon graduation from high school, joined the United States Marine Corps and served in Vietnam, by unveiling one of two signs bearing the "James E. Widener Memorial Bridge" name.
On June 11, 1967, PFC Widener was declared Missing in Action when his helicopter crashed while on a mission to the Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam. On November 2, 2006, the United States Department of Defense announced PFC Widener’s remains had been positively identified and he was given a proper military burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
"There is no greater satisfaction in my job as a legislator than honoring a man or woman who has served in the military," said Senator Alesi. "Private First Class Widener was a lifelong resident who chose to serve his country at a time when we needed him most. He made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in the Vietnam War and it was only seven months ago that his family was finally able to have closure and bury their son. It is a fitting tribute that we honor his memory in the community that he loved by naming this bridge after him so for generations to come, residents will remember the sacrifice their hometown son made for their freedom."
"There is no greater sacrifice that a citizen can make then that of service to their country," added Assemblymember Susan John. "Today as our community honors the service of Private First Class James Widener, we also remember the more than 23 million Veterans who have proudly served our nation. The dedication of the James E. Widener Memorial Bridge will stand as a monument to a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country that he loved."
Dating back to his days as a Monroe County Legislator and state Assemblyman, Senator Alesi has been a supporter of veteran’s groups as well as the issues important to those who have served in the armed services. During his tenure, Alesi has assisted and provided funding for all of the American Legion and Veteran’s of Foreign Wars posts in the 55th Senate District; the Monroe County Veteran’s Outreach Center; the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials. He has also championed such efforts as the POW-MIA Memorial Highway and hosted a ceremony where a dozen residents of the 55th Senate District received New York State Military Awards such as the Conspicuous Service Star, the Medal for Merit and the Conspicuous Services Cross.