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Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com

State Rep. Rob Witwer talks about the proceedings with former internees March 16 at the State Capitol where the Colorado House and Senate passed House Joint Resolution 1010 to rename a section of U.S. 285 to the Ralph Carr Memorial Highway.

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Colorado renames highway to honor Gov. Ralph Carr

Former governor stood up for Japanese Americans during World War II

 

Ralph Carr Memorial Highway

Red denotes highway section

 

• U.S. 285 from C-470 to New Mexico border is now known as the Ralph Carr Memorial Highway

DENVER – During World War II, an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans were stripped of their rights, forced out of their homes and relocated to internment camps.

 

Former Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr was one of the few in power who stood up for them and offered refuge.

 

More than 60 years later, he was finally honored by the state.

 

The Colorado House and Senate passed House Joint Resolution 1010 on March 14 at the Capitol, which designates U.S. 285 from C-470 to the New Mexico border as the Ralph Carr Memorial Highway.

 

"I'm glad we did it now," said State Rep. Rob Witwer, one of the bill's main sponsors, along with State Rep. Rafael Gallegos. "It's a long overdue honor."

 

Witwer said he knew of Gov. Carr, but it wasn't until he read a copy of 9News reporter Adam Schrager's book, "Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story," last year that he learned the whole story. Over the past six months, he said he's had hundreds of conversations with people who didn't know who Carr was.

 

"After I'm done explaining the whole story, people are amazed that he's not more well known and that this hasn't been more publicized," he said. "That's sort of the whole point of this project is to let more people know about the story. What happened during the Second World War, what Ralph Carr did, and why what he did is worthy of commemorating and honoring."

 

But the bill isn't just about commemorating Carr, Witwer added.

 

"This resolution is about Ralph Carr," he said, "but it's really for all the people who he defended and spoke for."

 

Several Japanese-American internees and military veterans were present during the legislative session. After the bill was unanimously passed, members of the assembly gave the veterans a standing ovation and took a short break to talk to them.

 

"[Gov. Carr] is really a brave man because he did it when the whole country was against the Japanese at that time," said Jim Hada, a Japanese-American veteran.

 

Witwer said that there will be two signs on U.S. 285 – One near the intersection at C-470 and the other at the New Mexico border. He added that there are also plans for privately funded memorial plaques at Kenosha Pass.

 

Joe Nguyen is the editor in chief of AsiaXpress.com. Joe can be reached at joe (at) asiaxpress.com.

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