Arizona highways honor veterans all year long

Arizona highways honor veterans all year long

November 10, 2016

I-10 Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway

By David Woodfill / ADOT Communications

As you prepare to mark Veterans Day and then the Dec. 7 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, look to signs along our highways for tributes to our veterans.

ADOT's employees join all Americans in their deep gratitude to veterans and their families, and we hope you'll be inspired by highway designations including these:

Piestewa Freeway (SR 51)

Perhaps the best-known freeway honoring an Arizonan who served in the armed services is the Piestewa Freeway (State Route 51) in Phoenix, which is named for Army Specialist Lori Piestewa, who was killed in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The freeway runs past Piestewa Peak, also named in her honor.

Piestewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, was the first female Native American member of the U.S. armed services to die in combat.

Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway (I-10)

Interstate 10 is referred to outside of the Valley as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway. A group of veterans requested the designation from the Arizona State Legislature in 1995.

The highway designation was formalized by House Joint Resolution 2003, and the first signs bearing the name went up later that year.

Buffalo Soldier Trail (SR 90)

State Route 90 from I-10 to Fort Huachuca is known as Buffalo Soldier Trail, a designation created in 1994 by House Joint Resolution 2001.

Lawmakers wanted to honor the black soldiers who traveled the route on horseback long before it was paved.

Buffalo Soldiers, officially known as the U.S. Army’s 10th Cavalry Regiment, fought in the so-called Indian Wars of the 19th century. In 1983, Bob Marley immortalized them in the song "Buffalo Soldier."

Veterans Memorial Highway (I-15)

State lawmakers designated Interstate 15, which runs through the northwest corner of Arizona, as Veterans Memorial Highway in 1995.

Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and California have also designated the interstate as Veterans Memorial Highway. As such, the highway spans about 1,430 miles from San Diego to Montana's border with Canada.

Arizona Veterans Highway (I-17)

Arizona Veterans Highway is the name given to the 140 miles of Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and the Valley, thanks to a 2004 resolution by state lawmakers.

A 5-foot stone monument honoring veterans and the highway's designation stands at the McGuireville Rest Area. It's engraved with messages including, "Freedom isn’t free."

Purple Heart Trail (I-40)

In 2003, lawmakers endorsed dedicating Interstate 40 as the Purple Heart Trail.

According to House Joint Resolution 2001, the Military Order of the Purple Heart  provided funds for signage and wanted the designation "to promote patriotism, history and education among the people of this state."

"The State of Arizona and the other states in the union, by likewise designating portions of their highways, can establish the Purple Heart Trail as a nationwide tribute to the millions of purple heart recipients who have courageously and selflessly defended this nation in times of war," the resolution reads.

Bushmaster Memorial Highway (SR 64)

SR 64 stretching north from Williams to the Grand Canyon and then east to Cameron is known as the Bushmaster Memorial Highway in honor of the Arizona National Guard 158th Infantry Unit that fought in World War II.

It got the name in 1995, joining Veterans Memorial Highway (I-15) and Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway (I-10).

The Bushmasters unit "distinguished itself in three separate sectors on Luzon (Philippines) after a long and sanguinary march through New Guinea and its neighboring jungle islands," according to resolution.

Blue Star Memorial Highway (I-8, I-19, US 89, SR 80)

The National Council of State Garden Clubs began erecting placards honoring veterans on highways across the nation in 1945.

Arizona has four of them.

“The Blue Star became an icon in World War II and was seen on flags and banners in homes for sons and daughters away at war, and in churches and businesses,” according to the National Garden Clubs website.

There are placards on I-19 three miles north of Nogales, US 89 near the Utah state line, US 89 at Hell Canyon Bridge and US 80 near the I-10 junction.

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