WHAT ARE THE AMERICAN LEGION AND VFW HIGHWAYS ACROSS AMERICA?
Over the years working with state legislatures, American Legion and VFW Posts have created 2 veterans highways spanning our nation between Canada and Mexico. The highways run north – south crossing 6 states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
American Legion Memorial Highway on the 1,872 mile US Highway 281
Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Highway and Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway on the 1,885 mile US Highway 83
PURPLE HEART TRAILS:
Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Chapters have worked with state legislatures to create Purple Heart Trails in every state. The first Purple Heart Trail spanning our nation in any direction was created on the 1,380 mile, north – south Interstate 5 spanning Washington, Oregon and California between Canada and Mexico.
Thus, there are at least 3 veterans’ memorial highways spanning our nation between Canada and Mexico but none yet spanning our nation between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
STATES WITH BORDER TO BORDER VETERANS HIGHWAYS:
On a smaller scale, border to border state veterans’ highways have been created in many states notably the 6 states on US Hwy 83 and US Hwy 281 and Oregon. Over the last 10 years the nonprofit Bend Heroes Foundation and the Oregon Legislature designated 6 border to border highways honoring nearly one-half million war veterans who served from WWI to the present.
The final Oregon veterans’ highway signs project managed by the Foundation is the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway honoring all of Oregon’s 29 Medal of Honor recipients who earned our nation’s highest military award during wars from the Civil War to Vietnam War. Twelve signs (12) were dedicated along the 451 mile US Hwy 20 between Newport (Pacific Ocean) and the Oregon/Idaho border (photo below). The Foundation raised $24,700 to pay Oregon Department of Transportation to fabricate and install the signs. This is the first of a kind tribute to Medal of Honor recipients in our nation.
MEDAL OF HONOR HIGHWAYS:
Several states have designated Medal of Honor Highways, Bridges and Overpasses honoring local Medal of Honor recipients. The highways are marked with signs of varying size and design. Most of the signs display the name of a single recipient and sometimes a single version of the Medal of Honor medal. None of the highways honor all of a state’s Medal of Honor recipients, are border to border in length or display all 3 versions of the Medal of Honor medal shown above.
Since the Medal of Honor medal was first presented during the Civil War, 3,505 awards have been made with every state represented. As of February 1, 2019 there are only 72 Medal of Honor recipients living in the United States of America. Know More….
To earn the Medal of Honor a member of the Armed Forces had to act with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during combat at the risk of one’s life against an enemy of the United States.
Oregon House Bill 2100 creating the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway suggested a national Medal of Honor Highway spanning our nation between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans could be created on US Hwy 20 honoring all of our nation’s current and future Medal of Honor recipients. At 3,365 miles in length, U.S. Highway 20 is the longest highway in our nation. Its western terminus is in Newport, OR on the Pacific Ocean, crosses 12 states with eastern terminus in Boston, MA at the Atlantic Ocean (map below).
About 2,360 recipients or two-thirds (67%) of all 3,505 Medal of Honor awards presented since 1863 are connected with those 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. Twenty seven (27) or 37% of our nation’s 72 living recipients are also connected with those states. Attached are 2 spreadsheets showing those statistics.
To promote more state Medal of Honor Highways, Bend Heroes Foundation requested the American Legion and VFW to publish articles on the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway in their national magazines.
As a result of the articles and prior discussions with the Foundation, veterans groups in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska are already working to create Medal of Honor Highways on US Hwy 20 in their states. Including Oregon, the 5 states will have stretched the Medal of Honor Highway from the Pacific Ocean half way across our nation. The groups are lead by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and American Legion in Nebraska.
Bend Heroes Foundation will request Department Commanders of the American Legion, VFW and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) in the 7 remaining states to complete the second half of the 3,365 mile Medal of Honor Highway across America.