AP NEWS

Bill creating Idaho Medal of Honor Highway becomes law

March 25, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gov. Brad Little has signed legislation to designate a roadway crossing the southern part of the state as the Idaho Medal of Honor Highway.

Little signed the bill earlier this month but held a special ceremony Monday — National Medal of Honor Day — to mark the event involving U.S. Highway 20. Idaho’s portion of the highway is part of a larger plan to have the entire highway that begins in Newport, Oregon, and ends in Boston, Massachusetts, receive the designation.

“It’s important for us to remember and commemorate,” Little said. “A lot of people don’t understand the high hurdle it takes to be the recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for battlefield valor. Officials say 48 Medal of Honor recipients were either born in Idaho or lived in the state.

State officials say Idaho has two living recipients. Thomas Norris, a Vietnam veteran, lives in northern Idaho. Robert Maxwell, a World War II veteran, was born in in the state.

In Idaho, the highway starts near Parma and ends on Targhee Pass where it enters Montana.

The estimated cost to the state is expected to be less than $30,000, with part of that expense putting up signs identifying the route as the “Idaho Medal of Honor Highway.” Images representing the Army, Navy and Air Force versions of the Medal of Honor are at on the bottom of the sign.

“This highway means a lot, not just to the state of Idaho, but to this whole nation,” said Boise resident Phil Hawkins, a retired Army command sergeant major who advocated for the Idaho designation. “I’m in awe that we got this together so quick in the state of Idaho. Now if we can just continue on.”

Idaho is the second state, behind Oregon, to officially designate its portion. Idaho officials say that at least several other states to the east are moving ahead with legislation.

The Idaho House passed the bill 66-0 in February and the Senate 35-0 earlier this month.