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Weekly Column: Honoring Idaho's Medal Of Honor Recipients

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Highways are an essential part of our country’s infrastructure.  They are a key to our productivity and opportunity.  They enable the transport of an incredible amount of goods across the nation and around the world.  We use them to visit family and loved ones and see new places and prospects.  As essential as these arteries of transportation are, it is fitting to name a highway that stretches across the country to honor some of our bravest who enable us to live securely with the freedoms we cherish.  I joined fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch and others in introducing legislation designating U.S. Highway 20 (US-20), which stretches across our country from Oregon to Massachusetts, as the “National Medal of Honor Highway.” 

The Idaho section of US-20 runs from the Oregon state line to the Montana border traversing our great State, connecting communities, unique features and remarkable assets, including Parma, Boise, Mountain Home, Fairfield, Picabo, Carey, Craters of the Moon, Arco, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton and Island Park.  In March 2019, Idaho designated this 400-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 20 as the Idaho Medal of Honor Highway. 

Legislatures and governors in the other 11 states along US-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 US-20 account for about 62 percent of all 3,516 Medal of Honor awards presented since the Civil War.  Designating US-20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway'' ensures all 3,516 recipients and any future recipients from all 50 states and territories are honored.

In addition to introducing the legislation, I also co-led an effort to include this legislation as an amendment to the Senate-passed S. 2226, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024.  While the US-20 designation legislation has, unfortunately, not yet been passed by the full Senate as standalone legislation or an amendment, I keep working toward its adoption.

The Medal of Honor represents the determination and courage of those who, in the face of overwhelming odds, acted far beyond the call of duty.  A notable group of 48 Medal of Honor recipients have had significant Idaho attachments.  The Idaho Military Museum maintains a list of Idahoans awarded the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for valor in action.  The museum notes, the Medal of Honor is “earned, not won, by performing a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice, above and beyond the call of duty . . .”

Our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients represent the bravest among us.  Their selflessness, sacrifice and sense of duty should be recognized and celebrated every chance we get.  They are an essential part of our country.  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 and look forward to the enactment of law cementing this national designation.

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