LIMA — As a member of the Army's “Band of Brothers,” Sonny Zimmerman is considered a hero, though his family insists he would wear that title reluctantly.
People driving down state Route 67, however, will be always reminded that Zimmerman gave the ultimate sacrifice and that he was just that, a hero.
State Rep. Jim Buchy, state Sen. Keith Faber, members of the Waynesfield community, and Zimmerman's family and friends were all on hand Tuesday as a portion of Route 67 was formally dedicated as Staff Sgt. Sonny Zimmerman Memorial Highway.
“It is important in the state of Ohio that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Faber said. “I can't say any better than what things people have already said. But what we can do is remember. For the generations to come, it is important to teach the young people so they remember that freedom is not free.”
Zimmerman died in July 2013 while serving overseas in Afghanistan. Zimmerman served a total of four tours overseas, including three in Afghanistan. Among his awards were two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts and three Army Commendation Medals. However, the medals were not that important to him.
Zimmerman's father, Chris Zimmerman, jokingly admitted his son would have made an exception in this case.
“He never cared much for medals,” Chris Zimmerman said, “but I can see him standing here now saying, 'Dad, I got a road named after me.'”
Zimmerman's father said the team aspect was an important thing to his son, and it would have been one of his wishes that the sign be a symbol for everyone.
“Team was very important to him and he was always thinking about his guys,” Chris Zimmerman said. “He would have expected this to be for all of his guys. Secondly, he would have been grateful for being recognized for the work he put in. He never would have considered himself a hero.
Sonny Zimmerman and his wife, Morgan Zimmerman, had only been married for 10 months when Zimmerman died. She echoed many of the same sentiments as Chris Zimmerman.
“He would have been grateful,” Morgan Zimmerman said, “but he wouldn't expect this. He always said, 'I signed up for this. It is my job.'”
Morgan Zimmerman said her husband was all about helping his friends return home.
“He was always most concerned with the man on his left and the man on his right,” she said. “When he got hurt in June, I begged him to come home, but he wanted to go back with the guys. He went back two days later.”
She said the community support the family received was amazing.
“We had other things to take care of and we were making other decisions,” Morgan Zimmerman said. “We were very appreciative for everything they done.”