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      Missouri roadways joining Purple Heart Trail

      Missouri roadways joining Purple Heart Trail
      Two Missouri interstate highways are joining the Purple Heart Trail.

      Created in 1992, the Purple Heart Trail is a national network of highways, bridges and monuments that pay tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.

      "The Purple Heart is only given to those members of the military forces that are wounded in combat at the hands of the enemy of this country," Clayton Jones, military order of the Purple Heart, said.

      That now totals 1.4 million people, most of whom were not alive to receive the award.

      "This medal is usually presented to the next of kin," Carl Dietrich, the Purple Heart Trail coordinator, said.

      The trail program will add 14 signs in Missouri. Those will includes signs on I-70 at the Saline/Cooper and Boone/Callaway county borders, and on I-44 at the Pulaski/Laclede and Phelps/Crawford county borders.

      Don Hillis, Missouri Department of Transportation assistant chief engineer, said, "We try to find a place that is gonna get the most impact. So, if you have a major highway comin' into the interstate, we try to put 'em around that location so, that as folks come onto the interstate, they have a chance right away to see the sign."

      Missouri's recognition of military service is consistently high. The National Guard surpasses recruiting goals, and Branson enjoys a national reputation as a haven for military veterans.

      BG Steve Danner, Missouri National Guard commander, said, "I think the Purple Heart Trail will just strengthen Missouri's position among the states as foremost in patriotism."

      Hillis said the signs should be up within ten days, and veterans groups say they are now looking at the potential for special memorials at rest stops in Missouri.