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Atomic Veterans Memorial Highway

August 2, 2012

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2 Comments
  1. Where does it go? It doesn’t look like it honors the Atomic Veterans. Good idea though.

  2. Augusta, Kan. —
    It’s just a standard highway sign – a KDOT green with white reflective lettering run-of-the-mill sign. But it’s the stretch of highway where it will stand that makes it much more than an ordinary sign.
    It is inscribed “Atomic Veterans Memorial Highway” and will designate a portion of US 400, where it runs together with US 54 from the junction of US 77 in Augusta east to the Butler County Line.
    On Friday morning in Leon, a group of Atomic Veterans, their families, and dignitaries gathered to take a look at the new sign and celebrate the step towards national recognition.
    Gary Thornton of Leon, an Atomic Veteran has worked for 6 years, along with his friend, Larry Halloran of Mulvane, in bringing recognition to the Atomic Veterans in Kansas and nationwide.
    In the dedication ceremony, Thornton thanked and credited the efforts of everyone who had helped the event become a reality.
    Hopes for an Atomic Service Medal, were boosted Friday morning with the news of U.S. Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Kansas introduing House Bill #HR 2553 and on the very same day U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas introduced companion bill Senate Bill #S112.
    “We’re reaching outside of Kansas now. We’re more hopeful than ever before and it’s our mission to tell everyone who you are,” Larry Halloran told the crowd.
    The gathered veterans were also told that NBC is planning a documentary on the Atomic Veterans and they would most likely be contacted for their individual stories.
    Special Atomic Veteran guest, Albert “Smoky” Parish, 82, drove from Minnesota — over 900 miles– to speak to his fellow veterans. (He was part of the Army’s 216th Chemical Company, who were trained together, went to Nevada together and all came home together. There probably is no other group which can provide a localized case study on the participants and the devastating effects their exposure had on them and their children.)
    Not being able to walk or stand without assistance, he steadied himself at the podium and spoke. He explained how he’s been working for recognition for the veterans since 1996 when the Atomic Secret Act was finally lifted. And with tears in his eyes, he told them what the dedication of small stretch of road in Kansas means.
    “Today the Atomic Veteran is not forgotten.”

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