A family's wish has come true with the ribbon cutting of the I-20 intersection with U.S. 371 at exit 47 as "Sgt. Joshua B. Madden Interchange."
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) held the ceremony yesterday at Community House in Minden, with a large show of support from the community and representatives of state, parish and local governments.
"Today's ribbon cutting commemorates the accomplishments of Sgt. Madden," DOTD Assistant Secretary of Operations Rhett Desselle said. "It should also serve as a reminder for us of the sacrifices that are made each day by the people just like Sgt. Madden, that come from communities like this one."
House Bill 324 by Representative Michael Danahay created the vehicle for the legislation naming the memorial interchange. Senator Robert Adley, who also spoke, amended the bill to include the designation.
He said fewer than 10 percent of Americans are veterans and Louisiana has more men and women in uniform per capita than any other state.
Adley then spoke of duty and what it means to be a good soldier.
"We can never forget those men and women that fought for a few feet of ground in a corn field, or a few feet on a rocky hill, or a few feet of waves, or a few feet in a rice paddy or even a few feet of desert sand," he said. "We can never forget them.
"A good soldier does not fight because he hates what's in front of him," Adley continued. "A good soldier fights because he loves what is behind him. We should do as much as the soldier. We should show the love and respect to every family that has lost a hero for this nation."
Representative Gene Reynolds spoke about his respect for Sgt. Madden and other young people like him, and his experiences with them as a school principal.
"We would talk about their dreams and their aspirations," he said. "We would talk about things like, try to reach just a little farther than what you think you can do.
"Josh Madden did that," Reynolds continued. "He always reached a little bit higher, a little bit farther."
Mayor Bill Robertson also spoke of his feelings about Sgt. Madden.
"I'm very proud of Josh Madden," he said. "If it wasn't for people like him, we couldn't be free today.
"We are so proud of Josh and what he meant to Minden and what he meant to the nation," Robertson continued. "He is for sure a fallen hero."
Jerry Madden, Josh Madden's father, then spoke of his son's effect on his fellow soldiers.
"He was asked why did he get so many gifts from home," Jerry Madden said. "Why is it that you always get boxes of good things from people you don't even know? What is so special about you?
"He said there's three things," Madden continued. "One, we're from the south and that's just what we do. Two, we're Christians. We don't have to know somebody to love them. Three, I think you ought to try it. I think you'd like it."
Josh was killed in active duty on Dec. 6, 2006. He and four other soldiers were killed when their Humvee encountered a 1,500-pound roadside bomb while conducting operations near the northern town of Kirkuk.
He had been deployed to Kirkuk for his second tour in early August, 2006. His wife, Dani, gave birth to their son, Jaxon, on Sept. 1, 2006.
Josh met his son on a two-week leave in late November, 2006.
He returned to Iraq on Dec. 1, 2006, five days before his death. Josh was 21 years old when he was killed.