– As a way to honor our country’s greatest heroes, Rep. Parke Wentling (R-Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer) was joined by veterans and members of the community in dedicating U.S. Route 20 as the Pennsylvania Medal of Honor Highway on Friday.
“Following long hours of hard work and extensive collaboration on getting legislation signed into law, I am grateful that this day finally came to fruition,” said Wentling. “These individuals fought tirelessly, risking their lives in combat for our country.”
Pennsylvania has the nation’s second highest number of Medal of Honor recipients at 382, and it became the 10th state to pass legislation recognizing Route 20 as a Medal of Honor Highway.
At 3,365 miles in length, U.S. Highway 20 is the longest highway in the nation. Its western terminus is in Newport, Ore., on the Pacific Ocean. It crosses 12 states with its eastern terminus in Boston, Mass., at the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly two-thirds of all 3,515 Medal of Honor awards presented since 1863 relate to the 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. The remaining 38 states account for about one-third of all recipients. Twenty-six of the nation’s 66 living recipients are also connected with the 12 states.
As the then-president of the Pennsylvania Council of Chapters with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Lt. Col. Keith Beebe (Ret.) of the U.S. Army played a key role in advocating with the Pennsylvania Legislature to establish the section of U.S. Route 20 that runs from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border to the Pennsylvania-New York border.
“For those from this state who went above and beyond in service to our country, this is a great tribute,” said Beebe.
Brig. Gen. John Pippy, one of the event’s featured guest speakers, is a decorated Army veteran who served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly for 16 years. Currently the land component commander for the PA Army National Guard in Fort Indiantown Gap and deputy chief of engineers for National Guard Affairs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C., Pippy said he always looks forward to paying tribute to those who defend our country.
"It is an honor for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to participate in today's ceremony recognizing brave Americans who earned this nation’s highest award for valor – the Medal of Honor," said Pippy. "By dedicating Pennsylvania’s portion of U.S. Route 20 as the Pennsylvania Medal of Honor Highway, everyone traveling this road will be reminded that our freedom came at the hands of veterans who went above the call of duty and put their country and fellow service members before their own lives. With this dedication, today and forever we uphold the legacy of these Pennsylvania heroes."
To earn the Medal of Honor, a member of the Armed Forces had to act with “with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of life during combat against an enemy of the United States.”
To view the dedication ceremony in its entirety, click here