Idaho 3's new formal name honors Medal of Honor recipients

COEUR d'ALENE - Private donations and veteran groups plan to pay for signs designating State Highway 3 as the "North Idaho Medal of Honor Highway."

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter recently signed a law regarding the highway that spans about 120 miles and connects U.S. 12 near Spalding with Interstate 90 near Rose Lake.

"It may make the public more aware about those who have served in the time of conflict and lead to more patriotism," Hayden Lake resident Thomas Norris, one of three living Medal of Honor recipients in Idaho, told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "I think we need to do more to honor the men and women who are fighting for us today."

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, introduced the bill last month to rename the highway, noting Idaho has more than three dozen recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military tribute.

Highway 3 runs past St. Maries, where World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker lived until his death last year. A road near Hayden in northern Idaho late last year was named Vernon J. Baker Boulevard.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic because it honors all Medal of Honor recipients," said Baker's widow, Heidy Baker, of the new Highway 3 designation. "(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."

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, was one of the lawmakers who supported the bill.

"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.

Published 3-18-2011