Retired U.S. Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond – also known as "Mexico's favorite son" – was the center of attention Wednesday as local dignitaries and residents gathered to recognize his "endless dedication and contributions to the state of Missouri" and his home town.
City, county and state officials, among many others, assembled at the Mexico Memorial Airport-Hagan Brothers Field for a brief ceremony to unveil two new signs that will bear the former senator's name. One sign will be placed at the airport terminal building and the other will be posted on Business Loop 54 Highway through Mexico.
The unveiling ceremony is the last of several recognition events sponsored by the Kit Bond Committee that began in 2006. State Rep. John Cauthorn led the charge at the state capitol to rename the section of highway that will bear Bond's name, and many words of kindness and praise were expressed Wednesday by Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Nichols, Western District Commissioner Tom Groves, NE District Missouri Department of Transportation Engineer Paula Gough, Airport Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Hagan, Rep. Cauthorn and others. The welcome and conclusion were presented by Bruce Oliver.
"We wanted to honor Kit. He's done so much for this community – for highways, for the agriculture community, and for businesses throughout our region. As I called him today, he's our favorite son, and we appreciate his work," Cauthorn said.
In response, Bond told guests it's an honor, but said he's a little embarrassed. He said he just "joined others who were going in the right direction." The retired senator gives all the credit to the city, county, Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, Progress Mexico and the many others that help lead Mexico forward.
"They have been very generous in naming things after me," Bond said. "But it's the people of Mexico who make these things happen. I help when they bring a good project to me. I'm deeply grateful for all of my friends in Mexico and the surrounding areas. I just hope I can live up to the honors they've given me."
The signage for the airport terminal – which is still in the making – will be hung outside the building and read the "Christopher S. Kit Bond Terminal," while the highway sign will read "Christopher S. 'Kit' Bond Highway."
Bond served as state auditor from 1971 to 1973 before becoming governor at the age of 33. He was the youngest governor in the history of Missouri. He served two terms as governor, from 1973-1977 and from 1981-1985. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and was re-elected in 1992, 1998 and 2004. On Jan. 8, 2009, he announced he would not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2010.