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Oregon lawmakers approve renaming OR-35 to honor Japanese-American WWII veterans

Under the new legislation, the 41-mile highway between Hood River and Government Camp will be called Oregon Nisei Veterans World War II Memorial Highway.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — State lawmakers want to rename Oregon Route 35, which runs between Hood River and Government Camp, to honor Japanese Americans who fought in World War II.

On Monday, the Oregon House and Senate approved changing the name of the 41-mile highway to "Oregon Nisei Veterans World War II Memorial Highway." The legislation heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk for her signature. 

Linda Tamura, a Japanese American from Hood River, said her father and uncle both fought in WWII. She was one of the people behind the legislation to rename the highway. 

Tamura explained that Nisei means second-generation Japanese American.

"Nisei is significant because they were incarcerated and they served our country," Tamura said.

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More than 130 Oregon Nisei soldiers served in Europe and the South Pacific during the war. Some of the soldiers were also sent to internment camps during the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  

Credit: Linda Tamura

The name change is meant to honor those soldiers, a number of whom lived in Hood River County.

"The goal is to have four signs, two facing south and two facing north. We would also like to have an information sign that talks a little bit of Nisei Veterans," Tamura said. 

Tom Ashmore lives in the area and said he supports renaming the highway to honor Japanese-American veterans. 

"I have no problem with that. I think it would be good to recognize those folks and what they went through," Ashmore said.  

Assuming Gov. Brown signs off on the legislation, Tamura said she hopes to hold a ceremony when the new signs go up in August. 

RELATED: The long, ugly history of racism against the AAPI community

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