Today, the Alaska State Legislature passed legislation extending the Purple Heart Trail highway designation so it will now run from the Alaska-Canada Border, through Fairbanks, and down to the End of the Road in Homer and on the ferry routes along the Alaska Marine Highway System. Senate Bill 203 completes a continuous 4500-mile land and ocean stretch of Purple Heart Trail, making it the longest trail in the nation and establishing the first-ever marine highway.
Senator Josh Revak (R-Anchorage), who sponsored the bill said, “The Purple Heart Trail designation reflects Alaska's heart for our veterans. The enthusiastic support for the Trail's extension by my colleagues and the communities around the state has decisively demonstrated that it is time to make it happen.”
“Since the first Purple Heart Trail was designated in 2008, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and its Alaska Chapter have been working for over a decade to expand Purple Heart designations across the state. It has been an honor to partner with them on this legislation and an even greater honor to serve those who have paved the way for our freedom.”
With more resident veterans per capita than any other state, the Purple Heart Trail serves as a tangible demonstration of Alaska's appreciation for the sacrifices made by our wounded and fallen soldiers. Of our 65,000 veterans and approximately 21,000 active-duty military members, many carry with them the scars that earned them a Purple Heart medal. Signs on the highway and AMHS ferries will stand as a thank you to veterans and an opportunity for those traveling to or around our great State to begin solemn conversations about the meaning of the Purple Heart and the sacrifices that Purple Heart recipients have made.
“Let everyone who drives or rides the ferry on the Purple Heart Trail think about the risk all veterans willingly take when they serve our country in the military and know that Alaska recognizes and honors the sacrifices made by Purple Heart recipients and their families,” said John Knott III, combat-wounded Army veteran and Alaska Commander of the MOPH who has been leading the effort to expand the Trail for several years.
This extension connects the Purple Heart Cities & Boroughs of Fairbanks North Star Borough, North Pole, Fairbanks, Mat-Su Borough, Wasilla, Soldotna, Homer, and Skagway. Installation of the signs is expected to begin this fall.
Senate Bill 203 passed the Alaska State Senate unanimously on April 11, passed the House of Representatives 35-4 on May 17, and unanimously concurred to by the Senate on May 18. For more information, please contact Emma Torkelson in Senator Revak’s office at 907-465-3879.