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Scout seeks to rename S.L. street for fallen Marine
Karl Malone and John Stockton racked up record-breaking stats. So it was a slam-dunk decision to honor the former Utah Jazz giants by adding their names to streets around their home court at the Delta Center. Adam Galvez preferred baseball to basketball and played catcher at a field on Salt Lake City's west side. No sports superstar, the Marine made his name on the battlefield of Iraq and perished last month in a roadside bombing.
But getting Galvez's name added to a street near his childhood diamond is no home run.
At 21, Galvez is the only Salt Lake City resident known to have died in the Iraq war, although others have lived in Utah's capital at some point in their lives, according to Salt Lake Tribune records.
Fifteen-year-old Junior Cruz didn't know Galvez, but the Boy Scout wants to join the National Guard, and he wants to earn his Eagle. So the west-sider is proposing renaming 300 South between Interstate 15 and Redwood Road in the fallen Marine's honor because the street runs near the Sherwood Park baseball fields where Galvez played as a boy. Cruz, who has a backup plan to add Galvez's name to a ball diamond, is no political expert. But the East High sophomore is astutely raising the comparison between how the public idolizes millionaire sports stars and how it treats soldiers.
"If they name streets after basketball players, why not name streets after soldiers that fought for our freedom?" wonders Cruz, who is in the ROTC.
In a letter seeking support from community leaders for his idea, Cruz added: "My Scoutmaster has taught us who we honor as a city will tell the next generation a lot about who we were as a people. I want kids that go to Franklin Elementary [also on 300 South] to know that we will always remember soldiers like Adam Galvez who sacrificed for us." The City Council, which would decide if the honorary street name goes through, hasn't yet lined up behind the idea.
Michael Clara, Cruz's troop leader, initially approached Councilman Carlton Christensen about renaming 600 North because Galvez's parents live in Christensen's northwest district.
Christensen was hesitant.
"First and foremost, it's a very genuine and very honorable way of recognizing this young man who passed away," the councilman says.
But he wonders about other residents who would want to honor their fallen soldiers from past wars. Would this open the floodgates? A better way, he suggests, may be to build a memorial to all Salt Lake City soldiers.
While the city policy on honorary street names is loose, Christensen says recent changes have centered on national figures.
Martin Luther King Jr. graces 600 South, Cesar Chavez 500 South, Rosa Parks 200 East. Streets around the city's high schools include their mascot names. And "Veterans Boulevard" was recently added to Foothill Boulevard near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Christensen acknowledges it would be difficult to vote no to a Galvez Street. "Do you hold a sports [figure] higher than a young man who gave his life to the country? I'm not sure you can do that." Clara moved the request to Councilman Van Turner's southwest district. Turner is withholding judgment. "I really haven't got an opinion on it now. I'll wait until I hear from more people. We've had a number of soldiers that are deceased from the war. Maybe we'd be better off with a memorial." Amy Galvez is honored no matter how the city pays tribute to her son. She remembers being amazed when she heard about Cruz's plan "It's a great honor that they would want to do that," she said.
"There's an abundance of blessings in the midst of this tragedy, and it's so moving and just means so much to us to see how people's lives have been affected and have been touched by Adam and what's happened.
"I'm sure Adam would, if he could see what's going on here, he would be amazed and probably a little embarrassed." Clara hopes to set up a meeting between Cruz and Rocky Anderson to seek the mayor's support. Anderson recently headlined a protest against President Bush and the Iraq war and has said the death of U.S. soldiers there is "completely unnecessary." The mayor said through a spokesman that he is willing to consider the idea.
"I've heard [Anderson] say he supports the troops, but he's not for the war," Clara said. "This would be a good way to demonstrate that distinction. It'll be a good learning experience for the Scout."