Next month state highway Route 10 in the center of Cheshire, Connecticut will be named The Medal of Honor Memorial Highway. The naming will be observed in a dedication ceremony on Saturday, September 12 at 3 p.m. during the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce’s annual Fall Festival at Bartlem Park.
The Cheshire Veterans Council and the Town of Cheshire requested the Connecticut Department of Transportation to approve the name. Rep. Mary Fritz, a member of Cheshire’s delegation to the General Assembly, took legislative action to put the request into effect.
Speaking for the Cheshire Veterans Council, VFW Post 10052 Commander John White said, “Cheshire is probably unique among small towns of America with a population less than 30,000 because we have two residents who were awarded the Medal of Honor. Marine Col. Harvey Barnum received the Medal for combat action in Vietnam and Union Army Sgt. Eri Woodbury received it for combat action during the Civil War. So far as I know, no other small town can claim to have two such Medal holders as residents. These men are genuine military heroes and deserve this public recognition.”
The Medal of Honor is America’s highest military decoration. It is awarded by the President on behalf of Congress to members of the armed services who distinguish themselves through bravery at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in combat against an enemy of the United States.
Cheshire has extensive connections with the Medal of Honor. The highway name will begin at the Medal of Honor Plaza where a monument honors the two recipients. It continues through the center of town where the Cheshire Historical Society displays Sgt. Woodbury’s Medal of Honor, and past Cheshire Academy where his portrait as headmaster hangs. He is buried in the cemetery at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the Academy. Cheshire Public Library nearby has a display case containing an actual Medal of Honor, photos of Col. Barnum as a boy growing up in Cheshire, and his presidential citation for the Medal. The highway name ends at the Cheshire Police Department.
Col. Barnum, who lives in Virginia, will speak at the ceremony. The day before he will talk with students at Cheshire High School, where he is on the Wall of Fame for school graduates.
Among the invited guests are Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Sen. Christopher Murphy, both Cheshire residents. Cheshire’s delegation to the General Assembly and the Cheshire Town Council are also invited.
The Cheshire Veterans Council consists of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Army Air Force Roundtable, Disabled American Veterans, and American Veterans. Their booth at the Fall Festival will have information about the Medal of Honor and will distribute a commemorative souvenir of the Dedication.