State Senator Sam Helton, D-Lawton, and Representative Ray McCarter, D-Marlow, announced the dedication of I-40 to be known also as the "Purple Heart Trail" today. Senator Helton and Representative McCarter, along with Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Phillip Driskill, officially dedicated the interstate under the provisions of Senate Bill 380, which was signed into law by Governor Brad Henry during the 2003 legislative session.
Currently, I-40 westbound is named the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway and it begins at the intersection of I-35 and I-40, while eastbound I-40 is named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway beginning at the same intersection. I-40 will now be known as the "Purple Heart Trail" in conjunction with the Memorial highways, which runs throughout the state.
"Eventually the Purple Heart Trail will extend nationwide," stated Senator Helton. "I am very pleased that Oklahoma has taken some of the first steps in memorializing those men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect the rights of American citizens. This Trail serves as an expression of the appreciation of the entire state and to memorialize those who served during wartime."
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and possibly to the next-of-kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.
The dedication coincides with a Region 5 conference of the Purple Heart Association, which enabled many Purple Heart recipients to be in attendance of the dedication.
"By establishing a Purple Heart Trail across the State of Oklahoma, we are honoring every wartime veteran who has served this great country. The men and women who have fought for our freedoms will be forever remembered for their efforts," said Representative McCarter.
The markers will be located in the center median of I-40 at the Dallas/Ft. Worth junctions.