New highways and bridges represent new directions and opportunities for us to travel. Yet, as we begin traveling the Baldridge Bridge — and many of us will, on a daily basis — let’s take a moment to reflect on the road that led us to this Deep Gap junction.

Both parts of this structure are aptly named. Baldridge, as in Sgt. Dillon C. Baldridge, an Ashe County native who died at the age of 22 on June 10, 2017, as part of the military force taking part in Afghanistan’s Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. And bridge, because this structure not only links two highways — it is much more than that — it joins the High Country to our nation in the sacrifices our men and women have made for our freedoms.

Considering this is worthwhile as we make the approach from 421 or 221. But also worthwhile are the names of the bridges and highways across our county, state and nation — names that resound with liberty, protection and service. Too often we miss such placards because we travel these roads so frequently — akin to the freedom we often take for granted because it is something we have known our whole life.

But as we now venture this new road, let us give a silent salute to Baldridge and all those who have made our travels a possibility.

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