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He’s been gone almost four years: On one hand, not such a long time. But considering he died at age 19, it equates to a big chunk of the life he lived.
Sammie Phillips died a long way from home. The North Hardin High School graduate was killed in Rustamlyah, Iraq, on Sept. 10, 2007 – 43 months ago today. While in the service of his country as a member of the Kentucky National Guard, Pfc. Phillips’ vehicle overturned on a traffic control mission.
His family and friends remember his sacrifice.
But the community’s collective memory is more fleeting. For many, the name may seem familiar but the details are vague. That’s not intended as criticism. It’s just the nature of memories.
It raises this question: What will we remember about Sammie Phillips in another 43 months?
Carol Dymowski remembers Sammie as her son’s classmate and friend. On the evening before his funeral, a collection of young people who knew Sammie gathered in her backyard for a bonfire. It was a private time of mourning and remembrance.
That backyard will disappear soon. The Dymowskis’ home along with a few others in her neighborhood on Oakwood Circle off Safari Trail will be cleared away in the name of progress as a new road is constructed around Radcliff’s northern edge.
The bypass is designed to simplify daily commutes to and from Fort Knox. Dymowski also wants it to serve as a memorial.
She’s approached Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall about having the new street named for Sammie Phillips.
The new road will pass through some unincorporated parts of Hardin County and edge into Meade County on its route from U.S. 31W to an extension of Ky. 313, which is under construction. That means the county governments also will have a part in naming some parts of the planned road.
Trying to name a road that doesn’t exist may seem premature. But she wants to get out front with her idea before another proposal surfaces.
“People forget sometimes how much the military does for us. And not just because of BRAC and the economics,” Dymowski said. “These are young men and women who raise their hands and are willing to serve. Sometimes they make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Dymowski wants no attention or credit for herself. She simply offers a plea on behalf of Sammie Phillips’ legacy. She wants people to remember a young married man who grew up here and came home for burial.
“I think he’s a true American hero.”
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (270) 505-1764.