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Veterans Memorial Highway designation sought in Carbon County

Carbon  County Crosses.jpg
Posted at 1:31 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 15:32:26-04

Thousands of crosses and dog tags line Highway 212 between Rockvale and Red Lodge.

It's a seven-year tradition that started in Roberts and has spread to neighboring communities as people show patriotism and appreciation for veterans. Now, there's a petition underway to officially rename the highway "Veteran's Memorial Highway."

The town of Roberts started putting out crosses for fallen veterans and dog tags for those still living back in 2015. The idea caught on throughout Carbon County.

"One of our members with Roberts Activities committees, Mary Allen, her dream was to see Rockvale to Red Lodge along Highway 212 renamed Veterans Memorial Highway," said Kyle McKinney, a member of the Roberts Activities Committee. "Unfortunately we lost her to cancer about two years ago. So we are picking up in her memory."

Roberts, Red Lodge, Joliet, and Fromberg have a petition and a letter to take to the state to name the highway.

"We will write a letter to the Montana Highway Commission for them to consider making the designation for us," said Steve Keibler, Roberts Activities Committee president.

While Fromberg is not along Highway 212, it's also included and the group may ask to make it a loop that would go into Belfry and connect with Red Lodge.

"It's pretty exciting," said Betty Hecker, a member of the Red Lodge Rotary Club. "You kind of get a warm feeling inside of you. And when you see all these people come out to help you and you think hey, you know, this is a great place to be. And, yeah, it gets pretty emotional sometimes too."

"I have to say when you're putting them out and somebody comes by and honks their horn and waves, it's heartwarming to know that people appreciate what we're doing," said Melodoy Kilwine, a member of the Fromberg Salute For Veterans.

One of the volunteers in Fromberg put her phone number on a sign next to the crosses and dog tags.

"I have had Wyoming people text me, 'that's sure nice,' 'that's really great,'" Fromberg Salute For Veterans member Debbie Pierce said. "They go back and forth and they think it's just super to see it along there."

Other stretches of roadway in Montana have the designation, and they say it's something veterans in Carbon County also deserve.

"Per capita — Carbon County and Montana are probably the highest in the nation," Keibler said.

"It can be very emotional to see what just a few people can do if they really believe in a project," McKinney said. "And they really love the project."