Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Highway designation honors Vietnam veterans

Douglas stretch earns WWII label

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TONASKET – A dedication held just prior to Memorial Day designated Highway20 in Okanogan County as “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.” The renaming was spearheaded by veterans from Oroville American Legion Post 82 and Tonasket Post 84 who initiat4ed a signature-gathering effort in support of the change.

It’s just the latest in a number of similar designations that have been conferred upon sections of highway in this state and other parts of the nation. In October 2021 The Quad carried a story about a campaign to name the portion of U.S. Highway 97 in Washington State “World War II Veterans Memorial Highway.” That proposal met with some success earlier this year when the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) named U.S. 97 from Odabashian Bridge near Wenatchee to Beebe Bridge near Chelan “World War II Veterans Memorial Highway.”

The U.S. 97/WWII campaign originated in Oregon in the early 2000’s by the Bend Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit that worked to rename other Oregon highways honoring U.S. war veterans. Among their successes:

• U.S. 395 – WWI Veterans Memorial Highway.

• U.S. 97-State Route 126 – WWII Veterans Historic Highway.

• Interstate 5 – Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway & Purple Heart Trail.

• Interstate 84 – Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

• U.S. 101 – Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway.

A section of WSTC policy and procedure outlines the steps necessary for the non-legislative naming process. It reads:

To initiate the naming process without a legislative Joint Memorial being enacted, an interested party must contact the Commission to establish their interest in seeking a naming. The requesting party shall provide sufficient evidence to the Commission indicating community support and acceptance of the proposal. Evidence of support and acceptance may include things such as:

  1. Letters of support from state and federal legislators representing area of the facility;
  2. Resolutions passed by local, publicly elected bodies in the area of the facility;
  3. Department support;
  4. Supportive action by letter from local organizations such as local chambers of commerce or service clubs.

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