Martina Burger wanted nothing more than for people to remember her son.
Now, nearly 13 years after his death, drivers on a busy Perryville Road will see the name of Marine Cpl. Dale Alan Burger, Jr. every day.
"For me to move on, I needed to make sure my son was always remembered," Burger said.
Friends, family and admirers of Dale Burger gathered at American Legion Susquehanna Post 135 in Perryville Saturday morning to dedicate a bridge to the Marine killed near the end of his second tour as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Burger, who grew up in Harford County and later lived in Cecil County, was 21 years old when he was killed by enemy fire in Iraq in 2004. Two signs displaying his name and the date he was killed in action have been placed on either side of the bridge, which carries Route 222 over Interstate 95.
Larry Weinzirl, a member of the Post 135 Sons of the American Legion detachment, said he started working with the Maryland Transportation Commission to conceptualize the idea in September. Heavy traffic on the bridge — which is located near the Hollywood Casino in Perryville — means the signs honoring Burger will be seen by a significant audience, he said.
Burger's mother, Martina, said she is grateful that the bridge dedication means her son's name and story will continue to be shared.
Republican Del. Wayne Norman, who represents Harford and Cecil counties, Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents Harford and Baltimore counties, and former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich spoke briefly at the ceremony.
Norman, who said he has known Martina Burger for more than 30 years, presented her with a citation from the Senate.
Szeliga told Burger, "Your sacrifice of your family will never be forgotten now."
Representatives from the Maryland Transportation Authority were also in attendance. Some of the Marines who served alongside Dale Burger illustrated his bravery and selfless nature through stories of their time together in Iraq.
Burger was killed on Nov. 14, 2004 in the Anbar province. Days before he was killed, Burger was struck in the arm by shrapnel, but requested to return to duty to help his comrades, Weinzirl said.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart.
His father, Dale Burger Sr., served as a Marine during the Vietnam War. He died of complications from a heart attack six months before his son was killed.
They are buried near each other in Arlington National Cemetery.
"He told his mom that if anything ever happened to him, he wanted to buried near his dad," Weinzirl said.
John Jones, another member of the Legion, said the signs will serve as a daily reminder to motorists of the sacrifices Burger and his family have made to protect the United States.
"God bless these heroes, and god bless their families," Jones said.
Maj. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, the program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors and the Aberdeen Proving Ground, told people in attendance it was "appropriate" the celebration took place just days before Independence Day.
"All travelers will pause and remember [his sacrifice]," Vollmecke said.