POW/MIA Memorial Highway sign to be dedicated Sept. 18
On Friday, Sept. 18, 10 large POW/MIA Memorial Highway signs will be dedicated in public ceremonies in six cities — including Madras and Prineville — located along the new POW/MIA Memorial Highway across Oregon on U.S. Highway 26 between Seaside and Vale.
Sept. 18 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day honoring POWs, MIAs and their families. The new POW/MIA Memorial Highway is the result of the nonprofit Bend Heroes Foundation request to the Oregon Legislature in 2019.
The purpose of the POW/MIA Memorial Highway is to honor Oregon's nearly 1,000 Prisoners of War (POWs) of whom almost 200 died in captivity, 135 civilians (later designated as veterans) who became POWs during World War II, and 1,000 (999 Veterans, 1 Civilian) Oregonians who still remain Missing in Action (MIA) or "Unaccounted-For" from World War I to the Vietnam War.
The memorial is also designed to educate the traveling public and let the families of POWs and MIAs know Oregon supports their hopes and prayers for the return of their loved one's remains.
The MIAs by war: WWI/21, WWII/887, Korean War/56, Cold War/2 and Vietnam War/34 for a total of 1,000. Over the last 37 years, the remains of only 42 Oregon MIAs have been recovered and returned to families.
The signs will be dedicated at various times on Sept. 18, including the Madras dedication at 10 a.m. and the Prineville dedication at 2 p.m.
Gov. Kate Brown's POW/MIA Recognition Day proclamation drafted by Bend Heroes Foundation will be read at the ceremonies with copies given to POW/MIA families.
Bend Heroes Foundation and its partners raised almost $20,000 to pay ODOT to fabricate and install the 10 signs.
Families of POWs and MIAs, state legislators, donors and the public are invited to these free of charge public ceremonies. They are invited to bring names and photos of POWS and MIAs.
The POW/MIA Memorial Highway is the eighth and last border-to-border veterans' highway initiated by Bend Heroes Foundation honoring nearly one-half million veterans from Oregon who served during five major wars: WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq Wars. Almost 6,000 veterans made the supreme sacrifice, 15,000 were wounded, more than 900 became prisoners of war, and 1,000 still remain missing in action. Thirty veterans connected with Oregon received the Medal of Honor.
The Foundation and its partners have raised more than $100,000 to pay ODOT and others to fabricate and install 89 honorific veterans' highway signs displayed on almost 3,000 miles of border to border highways. Four of the highways are firsts in our nation: POW/MIA Memorial Highway, Oregon Medal of Honor Highway, Persian Gulf/Afghanistan/Iraq Veterans Memorial Highway, and Purple Heart Trail connecting California's and Washington's Purple Heart Trails, creating the first Purple Heart Trail across our nation in any direction.
Other states have or are adopting the Oregon precedents: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway (ID, UT), Medal of Honor Highway (ID, MT, WY, NE, IA, IN, IL, OH, PA, NY, MA) and POW/MIA Memorial Highway (ID).
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