Heroes represent the best of ourselves, respecting that we are human beings. A hero can be anyone from Gandhi to your classroom teacher, anyone who can show courage when faced with a problem. A hero is someone who is willing to help others in his or her best capacity.
That quote from Ricky Martin embodies Sampson son R. Geddie Herring, a war hero who is known as much in these parts for his community service to Roseboro and beyond as he is for his heroic service in World War II.
It’s because of who Herring was, and what he means to an entire county, that we, like the Sampson County Board of Commissioners did earlier this week, offer our wholehearted support and urging that a portion of N.C. 24 be named in his memory.
While it can in no way repay the contributions that Herring made to his country, his county and his hometown, it can provide generations with an understanding of how important he was to all of us, and what a significant difference he made in the lives of others. And it can offer a memorial tribute to someone most deserving of such an honor.
His accomplishments read like those one would study about in history books: a successful businessman; a World War II naval officer in the Pacific Theater; a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient; a NC Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipient; chairman of the Sampson County Board of Education; mayor of Roseboro; and inductee into the Sampson County Hall of Fame. And that just scratches the service of the honors awarded to this selfless, charismatic, heroic individual.
Herring’s Medal of Honor was bestowed upon him for selfless heroics during the Battle of Iwo Jima, and many of his local accolades and political positions came because he was well-liked, respected and heralded as an individual who always went above and beyond to help his fellow man.
No one can argue that he loved Sampson County and, in particularly, Roseboro. It is a testament of that love for his hometown and his home county that Herring chose to be buried in Roseboro rather than in Arlington National Cemetery, where heroes of his calibre are laid to rest.
He chose home because that is where he was loved, and that is where he loved.
Now hometown folk are choosing to honor him by naming an approximate 3.5 mile stretch of N.C. 24 near where he is buried the “LCDR Rufus Geddie Herring Highway.”
It is a memorial tribute that should happen, and we urge DOT officials to work through the necessary red tape as expediently as they can to ensure that this designation moves forward as it should.
We offer our thanks to the likes of Roseboro’s Greg Butler, Jefferson Strickland and others for leading the charge to make this happen, and we tip our hat, as always, to Veterans Service Office Ann Knowles for doing everything she can to see that veterans from Sampson are honored for their selfless acts.
Herring is most deserving of the designation. We hope to see it done.