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NEWS | July 9, 2024

Highway dedicated to Illinois Army National Guard 1st Lt Jared Southworth

Highway 133 through Oakland, Illinois, is now the 1st Lt. Jared W. Southworth Memorial Highway after a dedication ceremony, July 6, in the small downstate town with his family and friends, including more than a dozen of those who served with Jared in the Illinois Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, 33d Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Jared, who was also an Oakland Police officer, was killed in action on Feb. 8, 2009 in Afghanistan. Jared lived his life by the motto "God, family, and country." He was a member of the Oakland Christian Church, and a devoted husband, father, son, and brother.

"This is an example of how small-town America honors one of our own," said Kim Southworth, Jared's mother. "Jared loved this community."

Kim recalled how people lined the streets all the way from the airport to the cemetery on the cold winter day when Jared came home.

"Thank you for the love and compassion you showed to our family."

The highway was dedicated to Jared after State Rep. Adam Niemerg, State Rep. Chris Miller, and State Sen. Chapin Rose sponsored legislation that was passed near Memorial Day.

A friend and neighbor of the Southworths, Linda Tabor, helped push for the legislation and made arrangements for the dedication ceremony.

An Illinois National Guard Military Funeral Honors provided a 21-rifle salute, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller led the community in the Pledge of Allegiance; and three grade-schoolers, Braelyn Lee, Adlee McQueen, and Joey Goodacre, sang the National Anthem. Sgt. 1st Class Heath Clark, Jared's platoon sergeant, talked about Jared as a dedicated platoon leader who did everything in his power to prepare the Soldiers to go to war. Brad Reineke, the Senior Pastor of Oakland Christian Church, gave both the invocation and benediction.

The keynote speaker was Tony Crouch, the Senior Minister of the First Christian Church of Tuscola, who spoke of sacrifice and the Army Values - Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.

"Jared epitomized each of those values," he said. "Now there will be a reminder to whoever travels this section of road."