|JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Interstates 70 and 44 will be designated as the Purple Heart Trail in a ceremony to be held at 9 a.m. on March 6, 2013, at the Missouri State Capitol.
Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and other veterans will gather on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives to unveil one of 16 memorial highway signs that will be placed along the length of the two interstates in Missouri. The Purple Heart Trail is a symbolic and honorary system of roads, highways, bridges, and other monuments that pay tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.
Carl Dietrich, a retired U.S. Navy electrician from Springfield and a member of the Missouri Order of the Purple Heart, will be the keynote speaker at the event.
The Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 480 in the last session designating the two interstates in Missouri as the Purple Heart Trail. The legislative sponsors were former Rep. Charlie Denison, Springfield, and former Rep. Jerry Nolte, Gladstone.
When all of the signs are erected, Missouri will join 45 other states, along with Guam, to honor Purple Heart Medal recipients. A map showing the Purple Heart Trail sign locations can be found on the Missouri Department of Transportation's website at www.modot.org.
It was Dietrich's idea to bring the Purple Heart Trail to Missouri. He approached then-Rep. Denison with the proposal, and Denison agreed to sponsor the required legislation. In addition, Dietrich set up a planning committee to garner support for the initiative and raise the funds needed to pay for the signs. Both Dietrich and Denison will speak at the ceremony.
"I am pleased with the support we received to honor those wounded or killed while serving their country," Dietrich said. "The signs are intended to be a visual reminder of the benefits we all enjoy thanks to the men and women who defend our nation."
The Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The trail originates at a monument in Mount Vernon, Va., George Washington's burial place.