Bill in Salem — House Bill 2036, which passed the House unanimously Monday, will dedicate three of Oregon’s border-to-border highways to honor veterans. U.S. 395 will be dedicated as the WWI Veterans Memorial Highway, U.S. 101 will become Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway and Interstate 5 will become Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway and a Purple Heart Trail.

Sponsors: Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles; Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario; Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend; Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte; Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver and Rep. Gail Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls.

History: In the past, Oregon has dedicated highways to honor veterans. HB 2036 is an “all-in-one” bill that will rename three highways and designate the Purple Heart Trail (I-5) at once.

What’s next: Moves to Senate.

Online: Read the bill at http://j.mp/BBvethwy

A bill pushed by a Bend Purple Heart recipient would create the first Purple Heart Trail spanning the nation’s borders as well as creating more highways honoring veterans.

The Oregon House on Monday passed legislation drafted by Bend resident and Vietnam War veteran Dick Tobiason, 79, to create three border-to-border highways dedicated in honor of veterans. Oregon veterans groups will raise the funds necessary to build, erect and maintain the signs designating the veterans memorial highways to Oregon Department of Transportation standards, as they did with previously dedicated memorial highways WWII Veterans Historic Highway (U.S. 97) and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway (Interstate 84).

The bill for the new designations now moves to the Senate.

The highways approved in House Bill 2036 include U.S. 395, which passes through Burns, John Day and Pendleton in Eastern Oregon, to become WWI Veterans Memorial Highway; U.S. 101 along the coast, to become Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway; and Interstate 5, to become Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway.

I-5 would also be made a Purple Heart Trail honoring veterans who died or were wounded during all major wars since World War I. Connecting with Washington and California’s Purple Heart trails, I-5 would become the first continuous Canada-to-Mexico Purple Heart Trail under HB 2036.

Tobiason drafted the bill as chairman of the Bend Heroes Foundation and testified before the House Veterans Services and Emergency Preparedness Committee. With him he brought an Iraq veteran from Bend, a severely wounded Afghanistan veteran from Beaverton, a Bend representative from the American Legion and a Redmond representative from Veterans of Foreign Wars to also testify.

If the bill is signed into law, all Oregon veterans who served during five major wars over the last 98 years would be honored, including the 479,762 who served, the 6,022 who died and the estimated 15,050 who were wounded, according to Tobiason.

“Enacting HB 2036 will complete the vision I had many years ago of honoring veterans who served during declared wars from WWI to the present by designating border-to-border highways and posting prominent signs in their honor,” said Tobiason in an email.

Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, sponsored HB 2036, and was involved with several previous highway dedication efforts, including the designations of U.S. Highway 97 and Interstate 84 and the 35-mile stretch along U.S. Highway 26 as the Warm Springs Veteran Memorial Highway.

“Thousands of Oregonians have bravely served our nation in foreign wars,” said Huffman in a news release. “I’m thankful for their immense sacrifices and I hope the dedication of these highways serves as a permanent reminder of their honor and service to our country. I’m humbled to have been a part of this process.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,

kfisicaro@bendbulletin.com

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