SALT LAKE CITY — A Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War wore an historic military uniform Friday to see the House Transportation Committee unanimously advance a bill restoring U.S. 6 as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.
Eric Dan Richhart, secretary-treasurer of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Department of Colorado and Wyoming, told the committee he had been working to restore the Grand Army of the Republic designation for nearly a decade.
He said he backs HB396 as someone "wholly supportive of all things veterans and military."
The highway had been renamed in 2009 for a former Democratic leader in the Utah Senate, Mike Dmitrich. But it had already been designated to honor Civil War veterans nearly 70 years ago.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price, establishes the name of U.S. 6 as Grand Army of the Republic Highway, renaming the Mike Dmitrich Highway the Mike Dmitrich Byway.
"This is important to them and their heirs," Watkins said of the 1949 designation that somehow had been forgotten. She said highways stretching from Rhode Island to California also carry the name to honor those who fought to defend the union.Comment on this story
"We dearly love and revere our state senator," Watkins said of Dmitrich, who also was from Price but now lives out of state. But she said the highway designation in his honor needs to change after "finding out we shoved something else aside."
The added byway designation, along U.S. 6 from I-15 to I-70, is not unusual, Watkins said. The designations made in the bill would appear on state highway maps.
Richhart, who lives in Magna, said he supported the bill "as a compromise, knowing the people of Utah love this man and, at the same time, knowing the veterans who served in the Civil War" should be celebrated.