Road renamed to honor veterans

Highway 3 designated as North Idaho's Medal of Honor Highway

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A bill designating Highway 3 as the North Idaho Medal of Honor Highway was recently signed into law. From left are Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene; Gov. Butch Otter, Medal of Honor recipient Bernie Fisher from Kuna, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; and Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian.

Medal of Honor recipients from Idaho will soon be honored throughout the state with the naming of highways.

Gov. Butch Otter recently signed into law Senate Bill 1050, which designates Highway 3 as North Idaho's Medal of Honor Highway.

Hayden Lake's Thomas Norris, one of three living Medal of Honor recipients in Idaho, is as humble about the honor as his service.

"I think that it's wonderful if that's what the governor (and legislators) wanted to do," said Norris, a retired Navy SEAL who rescued two downed pilots during the Vietnam war. "It may make the public more aware about those who have served in the time of conflict and lead to more patriotism."

Norris quickly diverts the attention to those who've paid the ultimate sacrifice or are currently serving in the military.

"I think we need to do more to honor the men and women who are fighting for us today," he said.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government.

Highway 3, the Medal of Honor Highway, runs from Interstate 90 near Rose Lake to Highway 12 near Spalding. Along that route is St. Maries, where World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker lived last year until his death due to cancer.

Veterans in other parts of the state will identify Medal of Honor highways in those areas.

Heidy Baker, Vernon's widow, said on Tuesday that she hadn't heard about the Highway 3 designation.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic because it honors all Medal of Honor recipients," said Heidy, fighting back tears. "(Vernon) would have never dreamed that something like this would happen. He always said that the medal is not for him, but those who left their lives. This makes me very happy."

The private sector and veteran groups will pay for special signage that will be installed along Highway 3 and other designated highways.

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene; and Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, were among those who supported the bill. Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bernie Fisher, a Medal of Honor recipient from Kuna, attended the signing ceremony.

"We sponsored the legislation to not only give recognition to these valiant servicemen, but to also honor the thousands of military men and women who have made sacrifices to defend our freedoms and country," Henderson said.

John Dunlap, commander of the American Legion in Post Falls, said that anytime respect for veterans can be shown it is a worthy effort.

Goedde said he was approached last year about floating the bill before Baker died.

"It seemed like a noble cause," he said.

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