Interstates 44 and 70 in Missouri will be designated as the Purple Heart Trail in a ceremony to be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 6 at the 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.
One of the signs will be located on westbound I-44 just east of the Phelps-Crawford county line and another sign will be on eastbound I-44 just west of the Phelps-Crawford county line.
When all of the signs are erected, Missouri will join 45 other states, along with Guam, to honor Purple Heart Medal recipients.
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 Wednesday’s event.
It was Dietrich’s idea to bring the Purple Heart Trail to Missouri. He approached former state Rep. Charlie Denison, of Springfield, with the proposal, and Denison agreed to sponsor the required legislation.
The Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 480 in the last session designating the two interstates in Missouri as the Purple Heart Trail.
Dietrich also set up a planning committee to garner support for the initiative and raise the funds needed to pay for the signs.
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.