Mokena road named after Pfc. Aaron S. Toppen
By Frank Vaisvilas Correspondent August 30, 2014 6:36PM
American flags line a dedication ceremony to name Townline Road in memory of Pfc. Aaron Toppen. | Frank Vaisvilas~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2014 2:09AM
A road that a fallen Mokena soldier grew up on has been renamed in his memory.
Dozens of people attended a ceremony Saturday commemorating the naming of Townline Road to Pfc. Aaron S. Toppen Memorial Drive.
Toppen, 19, was one of five American soldiers killed June 9 by friendly fire while on a mission in Afghanistan.
A convoy of military vehicles, fire trucks from local departments and motorcycles lined up along the road for the event attended by Toppen’s family, friends and supporters from groups such as Soldiers Guardian Angels, Warrior Watch Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, the Mokena VFW and local Girl Scouts troops.
“It’s amazing,” Toppen’s mother, Pam Toppen, said. “Mokena, once again, pulled together a tribute to our hero.”
Several village officials and Frankfort Township officials also attended the event.
Pfc. Aaron S. Toppen Memorial Drive is a 1.4-mile stretch from 187th Street to Francis Road through Mokena and a part of Frankfort Township.
“(The road) is important to remember Aaron, but it’s important to remember all the people who served,” Mokena Mayor Frank Fleischer said. “This (road) will be for all of them.”
Toppen lived near the heavily traveled road and would have used it on his way to go fishing or any other activity, Fleischer said.
Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Matteson, addressed the crowd during the ceremony and said that anybody who travels down the road will be reminded of their “safety provided by one of the bravest members of our community.”
“It takes a very special person to serve and to stand between the innocent and harm,” Hastings said, borrowing a part of a quote printed on the dedication ceremony program flyer. “It’s a way of life Pvt. Toppen embodied.”
Mokena Village Clerk Patricia Patt mentioned how Toppen’s sacrifice brought the community together.
Thousands of people turned out in June for a procession that brought Toppen’s body from Midway Airport to Mokena, and then for his wake and funeral.