Community gathers to dedicate Bridge

Dozens of people gathered at Sinking Creek Baptist Church Saturday to pay respects towards and dedicate a county bridge to Mike and Sara Whitehead Sellers.

County Commissioner Charles von Cannon said the couple were married for 62 years before Mike Sellers in 2017.

“I asked Sara several months ago if she wanted to use the name Clyde Marion Sellers on the bridge sign,” von Cannon said. “Sara replied no, use Mike. ‘That was what I call him every night when I talk to him in prayer.’”

The bridge in question is just a minute’s walk from Sinking Creek Baptist Church on Elizabethton Highway. Now, a sign stands next to the Sinking Creek marker, reading “Chief Master Sgt’s Mike and Sara Whitehead Sellers Memorial Bridge.”

Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill attended the ceremony, as well as U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, saying it was an honor to attend the bridge dedication ceremony.

“They are the definition of a life of service,” Hill said.

He said ceremonies like this remind people what truly matters, beyond the political debates that outline his job.

“For a moment, we can talk about what is good, what is right,” he said.

The couple met during their time in the Air Force after high school, at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas. They had many different postings across the world, including Korea, Germany, Spain and Elmendorf, Alaska.

Out of all of them, however, she said her favorite was Okinawa.

“Sara retired in October 1981 and brought Mike, a South Carolina native, to her beloved Carter County,” von Cannon said. “They retired with the same rank, Master Chief Sergeant, which meant neither could pull rank on the other.”

Von Cannon said Sara has continued her community service after her retirement, working in Europe to pay respects to U.S. soldiers buried there, and has used her retirement money to assist those in need.

Family friend Robin Taylor said it was great to see so many people present to remember the couple’s dedication to their community, both in and out of their military lives.

“They have dedicated their lives to others,” Taylor said. “That is a role model for me. […] It is a great message for all of us.”

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