A few months ago I got an idea to designate Rt. 10 through the center of my home town, Cheshire, Connecticut, as “The Medal of Honor Highway.” Cheshire has an extensive relation to the Medal of Honor. Elsewhere around the state and the nation sections of highway are named in honor of individuals, military units and famous individuals and battles.
I pitched the idea to town and state officials (since Rt. 10 is a state highway), and it was approved at the Capitol by the Department of Transportation, thanks to Rep. Mary Fritz, a member of the Transportation Committee.
I said to them: Designate Rt. 10 from Bartlem Park to the Police Station as “The Medal of Honor Highway” and explained why.
Cheshire is probably unique among small towns of America (with population less than 30,000) because we have two residents who were awarded the Medal of Honor. They are Harvey C. Barnum, USMC, who received the Medal for his combat action in Vietnam, and Eri Woodbury, Union Army, who received the Medal for his combat action during the Civil War. So far as I know, no other small town can claim to have two such heroic awardees as residents.
That is why I initiated the Medal of Honor Plaza in Bartlem Park in 1993. That is why I created the Medal of Honor exhibit in Cheshire Library in 1999. These two residents are genuine military heroes and deserve public recognition.
I’d like Cheshire itself to be known as “America’s Medal of Honor Small Town.” And that is why I’ve asked for the DOT designate Rt. 10 as The Medal of Honor Highway as it runs through Cheshire from Bartlem Park to the Police Station. That section runs from the Medal of Honor Plaza in Bartlem Park, past the Cheshire Historical Society where Eri Woodbury’s Medal of Honor is displayed, past Cheshire Academy where Woodbury taught and was Headmaster after the Civil War, past St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where Woodbury is buried, and past the town library where an actual Medal of Honor is displayed.
It’s a simple idea, but carries great educational power. I’m tentatively planning a dedication ceremony on Saturday, September 12, when the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Fall Festival will be held. The director of the Chamber, Sheldon Dill, has offered full support. I’m thinking of mid-afternoon when attendance will be highest. I’ll have use of the festival’s stage and sound system. I think it should last no longer than half an hour. I’ve invited our congressional delegation to attend, and so far it looks like at least two Senator Chris Murphy and Representative Elizabeth Murphy—will be there (since they live in town).
I’ve also invited Col. Barnum, of course, but it’s not clear whether his schedule will allow him to attend. Fingers crossed.