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Purple Heart Trail in Kansas to be dedicated

June 28, 2005 (05-143)


Contact:  Steve Swartz, (785) 296-3585

Purple Heart Trail in Kansas to be dedicated

A sign to be placed at the East Topeka Service Area, milepost 188, of the Kansas Turnpike will give holiday travelers something extra to contemplate as they head to Independence Day celebrations this weekend.

The sign designates the Interstate highways in the state the “Purple Heart Trail in Kansas” and honors all members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in combat. The sign will be unveiled and the trail officially dedicated during a ceremony Friday morning at the service area.

The Kansas trail is part of the national Purple Heart Trail, which parallels the Interstate highway system. The designation does not replace existing names or tributes. The trail is a project of The Military Order of the Purple Heart.

A total of 32 signs – six along the Turnpike and 26 along other Interstates in Kansas, will be made by the Kansas Department of Transportation and placed in rest areas by KDOT and KTA crews. Each will be dedicated to a Kansan who was either wounded or killed in combat. The sign that will be unveiled Friday is dedicated to 1st Lt. Michael L. Gandy, a Dexter High School graduate who was killed March 29, 1968, in Vietnam. His parents, Bill and Alene Lewis of Everett, Wash., will attend Friday’s ceremony.

Speakers at the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m., include KDOT Secretary Deb Miller; retired Brig. Gen. Stan Cherrie, a Purple Heart recipient from Leavenworth; retired Lt. Col. Ray Rhodd, senior vice commander the Kansas Military Order of the Purple Heart; KTA Board Chairman Mary E. Turkington; and Lt. Col. Larry Parrish, full-time support chaplain for the Kansas National Guard.

The Kansas Military Order of the Purple Heart is paying for the signs, which cost $97 each.

On May 13, 2003, Governor Kathleen Sebelius proclaimed the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways in Kansas the “Purple Heart Trail in Kansas.”

KTA officials are expecting the usual holiday increase in traffic along the Turnpike this weekend and urge all motorists to drive safely and utilize the rest areas. For traveler information along the turnpike and state highways, call 511 or click on http://511.ksdot.org. By calling “511” from anywhere in Kansas or 1-866-511-KDOT (5368) elsewhere in the U.S., travelers can get route-specific road conditions, weather, and road closure information 24 hours a day. Callers are encouraged to call 511 from their landline or cellular phones before they travel or when they are not driving.