I’ve crossed the Red River multiple times in my life, but until this week, I had never seen, let alone used, the historic Carpenter’s Bluff Bridge to get across the waterway that separates us Texas folk from our neighbors in Oklahoma. So, when I was assigned to cover the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new iteration of the bridge on Tuesday, I didn’t know what to expect.

My GPS took me from our office and through much of Denison before it dumped me at the end of the old bridge.

I arrived at the gathering on the Oklahoma side of the river and found myself among local elected officials, transportation agency representatives and curious members of the public. We all waited for what I assumed would be a few words about the project and the steps it took to get the bridge open, but what transpired was a lot more than a speech about a new roadway.

Bryan County Commissioner Tony Simmons largely delivered the address and thanked all the parties and individuals involved, but his speech took a turn for the personal. With tears in his eyes, he dedicated the bridge to his father, whom he described as veteran of the Vietnam War and he extended the dedication to all the nation’s veterans. Grayson County Commissioner David Whitlock was in attendance too and said he could remember walking the bridge as a young boy.

With the ribbon cut, those at the ceremony were invited to walk across the bridge. I watched as a father and daughter walked hand in hand across the new expanse of road and though the first vehicle across was Ford Mustang, perhaps the most remarkable crossing was made by two gentlemen who rode a horse and a mule.

After wrapping up my interviews, I headed back the way I came and crossed the old Carpenter’s Bluff Bridge one last time. I looked at the old wooden beams and thought about the structure’s history and how many horses and carriages had crossed since it was first opened. I feel lucky that I was one of the last to cross by car, and I’m glad to know it will remain a point of connection between Texas and Oklahoma.

Happy birthday Wednesday to Cindy Points, Pat Bohrer Yoast, Ronnie Peters Jr., Kaleb Wroten, and DaNiyah Wiley, all of Sherman; Robert Oberdorf of San Antonio; and Francis Cameron and Constance Marie Wright, both of Denison.