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Veterans may be honored with W.Va. highway names

January 27, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two resolutions winding their way through the state legislature would rename major roads in Berkeley and Jefferson counties in honor of veterans.

A resolution offered by Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, would ask the Division of Highways to name W.Va. 9 from the Charles Town bypass to the Virginia line Disabled American Veterans Highway.

"This is the first highway that's been designated in honor of disabled American veterans," Unger said.

On the House side, Speaker Bob Kiss, D-Raleigh, has sponsored a resolution to name Interstate 81 West Virginia Veterans Memorial Freeway from the Maryland line to the Virginia border. It has passed the House and is awaiting action by the Senate.

Both resolutions are an attempt to honor the thousands of West Virginians who served their country in war, Unger said.

Unger said 33 of 34 senators jumped on his resolution as co-sponsors when he introduced it Monday.

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"That's a good sign that it will pass the Senate and probably the House as well," he said.

The bill has been referred to the transportation committee.

Unger said he expects both resolutions to easily clear both chambers within the next week or two.

Signs would be erected along both roads.

Bunker Hill, W.Va., resident James Clayton, chairman of the West Virginia Veterans Coalition, said actions are important even if the results are symbolic.

"It just gives some notoriety and payback, really to the veterans," he said. "It's recognizing the veterans for what they have done."

Clayton, who is past commander of the West Virginia and Martinsburg chapters of the Disabled American Veterans, joked that two-thirds of the state's roads and bridges are named for either Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., or former U.S. Rep. Jennings Randolph.

"That only leaves a third left over," he said.

Clayton, who served three years in the Marines and 24 years in the Army, received back and nerve injuries in the Vietnam War.

"After you stay in for 27 years, you're bound to come out with something wrong with you," he said.

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