Monroe County celebrated the memory of a hometown hero by renaming a stretch of highway in his honor on Saturday, April 6.
LCpl. Franklin "Frankie" Watson would have turned 23 years old that day, and in honor of his birthday, the community of Madisonville sent up a special gift to the fallen Marine.
Friends, family and lawmakers held a dedication ceremony to rename a stretch of U.S. 411 through the city of Madisonville after Watson. It's now officially called "Lance Corporal Franklin "Frankie" Namon Watson Memorial Highway."
John Byrell said, "Frankie was a hero and heroes deserve to be
THP Sgt. Lowell Russell helped organize the dedication project and spent months working to make it happen. Russell said he was like a father to Frankie.
"I can think of memories that we've had and I'll smile,
I'll cry. I'll tell you there hasn't been a day that's gone by since his death
I haven't thought of him from the morning when I wake up until the time I go to
bed," said Russell.
At the dedication ceremony, musician Mike Anderson showed his support by
singing a song written by Byrell.
"It just kind of hit me," explained Byrell. "It kind of inspired me and I sat
down and literally two hours I emailed Mike the words to the song and said,
'Hey can you help put a tune to this?'"
Anderson added, "People tell me they hear that song and they have to
fight back tears. But it was a really special feeling to sing that song for
It's the same type of special feeling felt by all who honored LCpl. Watson,
whether through song, memories, or by simply driving along the newly
renamed Lance Corporal Franklin "Frankie" Namon Watson Memorial
Lots of motorcyclists led the ride along Lance Corporal Franklin
"Frankie" Namon Watson Memorial Highway on Saturday afternoon. All of
the money raised from the bike ride will go to Sequoyh High School for a
scholarship in honor of LCpl. Franklin "Frankie" Watson.