Sen. Annanich proposes highway renaming bill to honor fallen soldier

Bill will name a section of U.S. 23 ‘Sergeant Joe Johnson Memorial Highway’

LANSING —Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) is continuing his push to honor fallen soldier U.S. Army Sergeant Joe Johnson by re-introducing legislation to rename a stretch of highway in Genesee County after him, according to a press release. Sgt. Johnson was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

“Sgt. Johnson willingly put his life on the line for this nation,” Sen. Ananich said. “We owe him and his family a debt of gratitude for their incredible sacrifice. Dedicating a portion of U.S. 23 to Sgt. Johnson is one way all of us can say ‘thank you’ to one of our own, and continue his legacy.”

Sgt. Johnson was born in Flint and graduated from Carman-Ainsworth High School. In 2006, he joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan three years later. His life was cut short when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device on June 16, 2010.

His mother, Teri, has advocated on her son’s behalf to ensure he is properly honored, and her work inspired Sen. Ananich to sponsor the bill. She says her son “makes her heart smile.”

“Joe will never be a memory,” Teri Johnson said. “By naming this stretch of highway after him, people are going to say his name and he will never fade. They say that a man can never die while his name is still spoken, and our Joe will never die.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 1047, was initially introduced last year. It passed unanimously in the Senate, but stalled in the House. Ananich is urging both chambers to act swiftly to pass the reintroduced bill, now Senate Bill 34, during the new legislative session.

“Sgt. Johnson paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” Sen. Ananich said. “As a state, this is the least we can do to honor his name.”

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