WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, Jim Risch (both R-Idaho) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation designating U.S. Highway 20, which runs from Oregon to Massachusetts, the “National Medal of Honor Highway.”
“Americans can never fully repay the brave men and women who selflessly put their lives in danger to protect our freedoms and way of life, but we can honor and thank them. With the legislation Senators Crapo, Wyden, and I are introducing, every mile of the longest highway in America--which crosses our great state of Idaho and spans more than 3,000 miles nationwide--will recognize our heroic Medal of Honor recipients,” said Risch.
“Our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients represent the bravest among us,” said Crapo. “Their selflessness, sacrifice and sense of duty should be recognized and celebrated. I am proud to support the designation of the National Medal of Honor Highway, which traverses Idaho and stretches across our great nation from coast to coast.”
“I’m proud to have worked closely with veterans in Oregon and nationwide in the grassroots movement to designate America’s longest continuous highway – which spans from the Pacific to the Atlantic – as the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway,’” Wyden said. “Designating U.S. Highway 20 as the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway’ would provide a permanent and deserved recognition of America’s heroes, and I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail alongside veterans to drive this bill past the finish line.”
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor, presented by the president in Congress’ name. U.S. service members who distinguish themselves “through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” can receive the medal.
Redesignating U.S. Highway 20--the longest continuous highway in the United States--as the “National Medal of Honor Highway” would honor each state’s current and future Medal of Honor recipients and recipients from any state who travel on it.
In March 2019, Idaho designated its 400-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 20 to be the Idaho Medal of Honor Highway. Legislatures and governors in the other 11 states along U.S. Highway 20 have also designated their state Medal of Honor Highways, thus covering 100 percent of the 3,365-mile Medal of Honor Highway across America. The 12 states along U.S. Highway 20 accounts for about 62 percent of all 3,516 Medal of Honor awards presented since the Civil War. Designating U.S. Highway 20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway'' would ensure all 3,516 recipients and any future recipients from all 50 states and territories are honored.
U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), John Fetterman (D-Penn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill. U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) and Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) led similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
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, Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“The National Medal of Honor Highway across our great nation is 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,” said Dick Tobiason, LTC U.S. Army (Ret.), Chairman, Bend Heroes Foundation, Initiator, National Medal of Honor Highway. “They were willing to give their lives while saving others. For their sacrifice they were awarded the Medal of Honor medal, our nation's highest award for military valor."
“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,” said MOAA president and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “We applaud Sens. Wyden, Crapo, and Reps. Kelly and Higgins' efforts to designate Highway 20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway” – it is only fitting that we honor all our nation’s “bravest of the brave” veterans on the longest highway in our nation.”
“On behalf of the membership of America’s oldest Veterans Service Organization, the Legion Of Valor, whose membership consists entirely of our nation’s most highly decorated combat veterans, all holders of the Medal Of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross, we are honored to put 133 years of our institutional service and sacrifice to the nation behind this bill supporting the dedication of US Highway 20 as America’s National Medal Of Honor Highway,” said Justin D. LeHew National Commander of the Legion of Valor.
“The Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States is pleased to endorse the designating of U.S. Highway 20 as National Medal of Honor Highway,” said Gayle Alvarez, President of the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States. “Designating U.S. Highway 20 as National Medal of Honor Highway will be a lasting tribute and recognition for all the Medal of Honor recipients.”
The text of the bill is here.