At each of the city limits of the City of Greenfield are signs welcoming visitors into the town and praising its residents and friendly way of life.
On Tuesday night at a meeting of the City of Greenfield Board of Mayor and Aldermen, a roomful of citizens and board members decided the words on the welcoming signs and the preservation of their meaning meant more than dividing their community over the issue of putting up new signs to name a portion of Hwy. 45.
Hearkening back to a meeting in November, Donna Carlton acted on behalf of her brother, the first Weakley County casualty of the Vietnam War, in attempting to get a portion of Hwy 45 within the city limits of Greenfield named after him. Several community members chimed in to lend support, but others opposed the idea citing a specific name or names placed on the sign would be a slight to other area veterans.
The issue was tabled in December, but this past Tuesday, three motions were brought before the board. The first motion – to name the highway after Danny Carlton and Kenneth Bills, another Greenfield casualty – failed on a 5-3 vote. The second motion – to name the highway Veterans Memorial Highway – likewise failed on a 5-3 vote. Then, Alderman Mike Caudle made a statement that changed the atmosphere of the room.
“When Donna (Carlton) first came here, I looked at her request and with some thought, I decided to table it at the last meeting,” Caudle remarked. “I found out that Danny and Kenneth had been killed in action and I know the Vietnam War was a little different from all the other wars. Most people who came back from it didn’t get the honor they deserved when they got home. I had hoped we might learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately, this issue has brought dissension to our area and town and the battle lines have been drawn. In light of the strife this has caused our community, I make a motion that we take no action at all.”
The motion passed unanimously with only Alderman Paul Grooms casting a vote against it. Carlton, who earlier admitted she meant no disrespect to any other veterans, commented, “Greenfield should never be split. My mom and dad wouldn’t want fights over this.”
Tim Trimble, who announced support for his uncle earlier in the meeting and the 21 Greenfield casualties of war, joined Carlton and requested, “I’m standing with Donna. I’d like to see us approach the school and maybe have the Junior Beta Club put up 21 flags for all the Greenfield veterans on Veterans Day. The highway could be lined and the city wouldn’t have to name anything. It would make a statement with the school, the students could learn from it as Donna said and they would know the stories of everyone who gave.”
Mayor Eddie Joe McKelvy called the issue, “the toughest thing ever to come before the board.”
“The reason most of you are here is because of your love for veterans,” he remarked. “Let us remember, this afternoon, to conduct ourselves with honor. We owe it to every one of the veterans to be respectful.”