Portion of I-65 dedicated to War on TerrorBy Emily Etheredge Published 2:41pm Wednesday, June 18, 2014
A portion of Interstate 65 in Chilton County between mile markers 212 and 219 has been designated as the War on Terror Memorial Highway.
In May, state Rep. Paul DeMarco, state Rep. Kurt Wallace and members of the Alabama Gold Star Families unveiled two signs on the north-and southbound sides of I-65 dedicated to all the men and women who have died since the War on Terror began on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We chose Chilton County as the location for the two signs because geographically, the area is the center of the state,” Mary Nell Winslow with the Gold Star Families said. “The signs are not for one particular county but for everyone. We want to make sure that these men and women who have served our county and died during the war are not forgotten.”
Although there are no individuals in Chilton County who are members of the Gold Star Families, Winslow said the group originated for families in Alabama who have lost loved ones.
“There are different organizations such as the Gold Star Mothers and the Gold Star Wives, but there was nothing for families,” Winslow said. “We wanted something for whoever in the family to participate. We became a nonprofit organization and want to continue to work to make sure these men and women are remembered.”
Winslow said members of the Gold Star Families noticed signs serving as a memorial for other wars on several interstates throughout Alabama.
“I know there is a Korean War sign and a sign honoring veterans from the Vietnam War,” Winslow said. “We wanted to have the same thing for individuals involved in the War on Terror.”
Wallace and DeMarco co-sponsored a resolution for the 2014 Alabama Legislative session that was approved designating a portion of I-65 in Chilton County dedicated to Alabama’s casualties in the War on Terror.
Part of the resolution reads, “these Alabamians come from all walks of life, hold a multitude of jobs, and have a variety of reasons that they were deserving the honor and every citizen of Alabama and the country owes a great debt of gratitude to the brave and patriotic men and women who are killed or wounded in service to their country in times of great need.”
Winslow said the cost of the signs was roughly $3,500 apiece and serve to identify the highway as the War on Terror Memorial Highway.
Winslow said she originally asked the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) if a gold star could be placed on the signs to recognize the Gold Star Families, but due to federal government regulations, she was told no designs could be placed on the signs.
“We learned that if we put a design on the signs then they could actually be taken down if someone from the federal government were to see, so for that reason there is no gold star on them,” Winslow said. “It was just a neat project for us to work on; and we hope that motorists traveling along the interstate will remember the men and women who gave their lives serving their country.”
To become involved with the Gold Star Family organization or for more information, visit www.alabamagoldstarfamilies.org.