May 09, 2023

Sens. Wyden, Crapo, Reps. Kelly, Higgins Lead Legislation to Honor Medal of Honor Recipients

The bipartisan bill would designate the longest U.S. highway as the “National Medal of Honor Highway”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., today led members of Congress to introduce legislation in the Senate and House designating U.S. Highway 20 between Newport, Ore. and New England as the “National Medal of Honor Highway.”

“I’m proud to have worked closely with veterans in Oregon and nationwide in the grassroots movement to designate America’s longest continuous highway – which spans from the Pacific to the Atlantic – as the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway,’” Wyden said. “Designating U.S. Highway 20 as the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway’ would provide a permanent and deserved recognition of America’s heroes, and I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail alongside veterans to drive this bill past the finish line.”

“Our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients represent the bravest among us,” said Crapo.  “Their selflessness, sacrifice and sense of duty should be recognized and celebrated.  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.”

“Covering more than 3,000 miles, U.S. Route 20 is America’s longest highway. By designating U.S. Route 20 as the ‘National Medal of Honor Highway,’ we commemorate all 3,515 recipients of the award, both living and passed,” said Rep. Mike Kelly. “It’s my sincere hope that the millions of Americans who travel the highway each year – from Bend to Chicago to Erie to Boston - will take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary sacrifice, courage, and devotion exhibited by every single Medal of Honor recipient. We owe them a debt we can never repay. Designating this highway is just one way and we can cement their legacy in American history.”

“Stretching 372 miles, US Route 20 is New York State’s longest highway, in addition to the longest highway in our nation,” said Rep. Brian Higgins. “Designating Route 20, which includes a portion of Transit Road in Erie County, as the National Medal of Honor Highway recognizes our nation’s bravest veterans, including those from New York State. We cannot forget the courageous sacrifices that Medal of Honor recipients have made for our country and dedicating our longest highway in their honor will preserve their legacy for generations to come.”

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor, presented by the president in Congress’ name. U.S. service members who distinguish themselves “through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” can receive the medal. 

Redesignating U.S. Highway 20— the longest continuous highway in the United States— as the “National Medal of Honor Highway” would honor each state’s current and future Medal of Honor recipients and recipients from any state who travel on it. 

Legislatures and governors in all 12 states along U.S. Highway 20 have designated their  state Medal of Honor Highways covering 100 percent of the 3,365-mile Medal of Honor Highway across America. The 12 states along U.S. Highway 20 account for about 62 percent of all 3,516 Medal of Honor awards presented since the Civil War. Designating U.S. Highway 20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway'' would ensure all 3,516 recipients and any future recipients from all 50 states and territories are honored.

U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mike Braun, R-Ind., James Risch, R-Idaho, Chuck Schumer, D- N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Todd Young, R-Ind., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., cosponsored the Senate version of the bill. U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Brian Higgins, D-N.Y. led similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

The legislation is supported by the Bend Heroes Foundation, Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, Legion of Valor, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"The National Medal of Honor Highway across our great nation is a permanent tribute to America's members of the Armed Forces who acted with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of their lives during combat with an enemy of the United States,” said Dick Tobiason, LTC US Army, Ret., Chairman, Bend Heroes Foundation, Initiator, National Medal of Honor Highway. “They were willing to give their lives while saving others. For their sacrifice they were awarded the Medal of Honor medal, our nation's highest award for military valor." 

“Every state from Oregon to Massachusetts has dedicated Highway 20 to the recipients of the Medal of Honor, it is time for the federal government to do the same,” said MOAA president and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “We applaud Sens. Wyden, Crapo, and Reps. Kelly and Higgins' efforts to designate Highway 20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway” – it is only fitting that we honor all our nation’s “bravest of the brave” veterans on the longest highway in our nation.”

“On behalf of the membership of America’s oldest Veterans Service Organization, the Legion Of Valor, whose membership consists entirely of our nation’s most highly decorated combat veterans, all holders of the Medal Of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross, we are honored to put 133 years of our institutional service and sacrifice to the nation behind this bill supporting the dedication of US Highway 20 as America’s National Medal Of Honor Highway,” said Justin D. LeHew National Commander of the Legion of Valor.

“The Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States is pleased to endorse the designating of U.S. Highway 20 as National Medal of Honor Highway,” said Gayle Alvarez, President of the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States. “Designating U.S. Highway 20 as National Medal of Honor Highway will be a lasting tribute and recognition for all the Medal of Honor recipients.”

The text of the bill is here.