The nation’s longest road – U.S. Route 20 – would be designated the “National Medal of Honor Highway,” if U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and veterans organizations get their way.
The Toledo Democrat is among a bipartisan group of U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives legislators who introduced legislation this month that would honor those who have won the nation’s highest award for valor by renaming the 3,365-mile-long highway.
U.S. Route 20 begins in Boston at a junction with Massachusetts Route 2 and ends in Newport, Oregon, at a junction with U.S. 101. In between, it traverses 260 miles in northern Ohio, including stretches in Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties.
A statement from Kaptur noted that 331 Ohioans have been awarded the Medal of Honor, including several from communities along U.S. Route 20. According to the National Medal of Honor Museum, 3,515 people in the nation’s history have won the nation’s highest recognition of combat valor since President Abraham Lincoln established it.
“Renaming U.S. Route 20 as the National Medal of Honor Highway is an important step to recognize and memorialize the contribution of those who have earned the highest honor our armed forces have to offer,” said Kaptur, who supported efforts in Ohio’s legislature that designated it the “Ohio Medal of Honor Highway.”
The legislation is supported by the Bend Heroes Foundation, Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, Legion of Valor, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States.
According to Veterans of Foreign Wars, the drive to rename U.S. Route 20 started with an Oregon Vietnam veteran named Dick Tobiason, who heads the Bend Heroes Foundation. In 2017, Oregon’s governor and legislature designated their section of the road the “Oregon Medal of Honor Highway.”
By the end of last year, all states along the route passed had similar measures with encouragement from Tobiason and veterans groups in their states.
A statement from Tobiason, said that having a transcontinental National Medal of Honor Highway would be “a permanent tribute to America’s members of the Armed Forces who acted with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of their lives during combat with an enemy of the United States.”
“Every state from Oregon to Massachusetts has dedicated Highway 20 to the recipients of the Medal of Honor, it is time for the federal government to do the same,” added a statement from Military Officers Association of America president and CEO Brian T. Kelly. “It is only fitting that we honor all our nation’s ‘bravest of the brave’ veterans on the longest highway in our nation.”
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