USMA Cadet Thomas M. Surdyke Memorial Highway Bill Signing
by Tim Surdyke
6/25/2017


2017-06-29

 Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed Senate Bill 322 on Thursday, June 29th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Pius X High School. The signing took place at Tom's Eagle Scout Project, the flagpole near the school's football field on which Tom was starting center for the team. Click the photo above to view the entire photo album.

Senate Bill 322 designates part of interstate 55 in Jefferson County as the USMA Cadet Thomas M. Surdyke Memorial Highway.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens posted his speech on his facebook page. It reads as follows:

In this country, we still produce remarkable men and women of great courage. Tom Surdyke was a West Point cadet. He sacrificed his life, to save another. Too often, we can forget the greatness that young people are capable of. Tom Surdyke reminds us. Yesterday, we dedicated a stretch of Missouri highway to Tom’s legacy. The remarks I gave are below:

Last Friday I was at Boy’s State, I first met Tom Surdyke there exactly three years ago. Last year, Tim and Janice shared with me Tom’s application essay to West Point, in which he mentioned the effect that the Boys State week had on him.  

Tom wrote, “My fellow citizen, A.J., had a profound impact on me. A.J. struck me as a person of great character and values. I discovered he had always wanted to join the Army. On the fourth day of Boy’s State, A.J. told us something he had not told anyone; the week before, he had been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Just like that, his dreams of serving his country were crushed. When A.J. told us this, I felt a strong call to do what he could not. I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to serve and protect those who are not able to do so for themselves.  

These are serious, courageous, compassionate words; and they reflect the deep commitment of a man of character, and they should remind us that we too often forget the greatness that young people are capable of.  Tom’s life reminds us.
 
Tom Surdyke was a son to Tim and Janice, a brother to Elaine, Rosemary, and Frances, a friend to his high school and West Point classmate… and now he was, and is, a hero to us all.
Our heroes become the common property of our country; for we can all share in their example.

We are all inheritors of a tradition of service and sacrifice, and when Tom chose to go to West Point, he made the choice to carry that tradition forward.  

We are all confronted, at some point in our lives, by a question of courage, and Tom answered that question.

In a time of confusion, Tom’s example offers clarity.  In a time of doubt, Tom’s life offers certainty.  In a time of despair, Tom’s life offers us a reason to be hopeful.  

We have many problems. But any country capable of producing the Surdyke family, and any family capable of producing a man like Tom Surdyke, should remind us that we have been gifted a tremendous inheritance of courage and service and common sense.

That is a gift that the Surdyke family and Tom have given to us.  Now, we have to ask; what will we do for Tom?

We are here to dedicate a highway in his name. This is good, and it is fitting. It is appropriate to honor our heroes.

When we set a building, or mount a plaque, or dedicate a road, we remind ourselves that heroism is something firm and enduring. Heroes last.

But we also must continue to tell their stories. The great Greek Warrior and Statesman Pericles once said, “What you leave behind is not only what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the hearts of others.”

And that, of course, is the great question that Tom’s life puts to us. What has he woven into our hearts? How will we leave here better?    

I know enough about young men of Tom’s caliber to know this for certain: he wouldn’t have let us wallow. He would respect our sadness, share in our grief, console us for our loss. And then, he would have picked up our pack, and said, follow me.          

Tom Surdyke gave his life in an act of courage. Let us follow his example, by living our lives with courage.

God Bless Tom, his family, and all of the young men and women who serve our great country.

The Cadet Thomas Surdyke Memorial Foundation was established to inspire and develop young leaders of character. Please help support our mission.

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