Third time’s a charm! After failing the first two times, a provision becoming law at the end of this month will establish the Stars and Stripes Historic Region of Missouri.

Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, who sponsored the effort, said it is designed to increase tourism in communities across the I-55 corridor. He also said this bill is in honor of the Stars and Stripes military newspaper that’s been in publication since the Civil War.

The Stars and Stripes first printing was in southeast Missouri’s Bloomfield on November 9, 1861. It was started by Union soldiers in the Bootheel’s Stoddard County as a newspaper for soldiers, by soldiers.

“If you go to mail call and your name is not called and you don’t get any mail from home, you’re not feeling real good anyway, but you can go to the PX or the mess hall and, somehow by some strange manifestation, the Stars and Stripes magazine would be there,” said Griffith. “You can go and you can look and see what’s going on back in Missouri. So, it’s a link back home.”

Under the bill, MoDOT will be able to place markings and signs along the I-55 corridor in eastern and southeastern Missouri to honor the military newspaper. Griffith said it will bolster the region’s economy.

“For those that travel the state and are looking for sights to see inside of our state, they’re going to drive by a lot of those,” Griffith said. “One in particular that really hits home to me is we had the Vietnam War replica, the exact same wall we have in Washington, D.C. that’s in Perryville. You can drive right by the Perryville exit and never know that that is within two miles of I-55. This is going to resolve that.”

The costs for the designation and the signs will be paid for by private donation.

“You have to have buy-in from the communities,” according to Griffith. “A lot of those communities, when they built I-55, it just was kind of a bypass of their community to where you just drive through there and you’re in a hurry to get from point a to point b. You really don’t know what happens in those really small towns that line that corridor of I-55.”

The bill becomes law on August 28.

Griffith was asked to chair the bill because he heads the House Veterans Committee.

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