Corridor designation celebrates ‘American hero’

Published 9:51 am Friday, June 2, 2023

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Gov. Andy Beshear joined veterans, state and local officials on Thursday to designate the route from Camp Nelson in Jessamine County to the Kentucky/Ohio border at Mays Lick as the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor.

The corridor designation was established following the enactment of legislation sponsored by Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, and Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville.

“Today, we’re taking yet another step to make sure this hero is celebrated and honored for generations to come right here in his home state of Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear.  “To his descendants and to the many people he has inspired, I hope there is some comfort in the fact that 100 years after he left this world, we are still speaking his name, still celebrating his incredible contributions to our country and still working to give this American hero, patriot and renaissance man his due.”

The legislation directs that the corridor be denoted with signage, and that the state work to promote its historical, military and cultural significance.

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“The naming of the Charles Young Memorial corridor, a bill I co-sponsored with Senator Gerald Neal, honors an African American Brigadier General who served this country valiantly,” West stated.  “This honor further celebrates African American history in the Commonwealth and is a thoroughfare stretching from Jessamine County, through Mason County and up to Ohio, which will encourage travel and tourism through this region.”

Neal added, “As we dedicate the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor, we don’t merely unveil a sign; we illuminate a pathway of historical recognition and rectification.  “This corridor pays tribute to an American hero, an emblem of our collective journey to honor our past, and an enduring reminder of the rich tapestry of history that binds Kentucky and Ohio.”

Charles Young was born in Mays Lick to enslaved parents in 1864.  He valued education throughout his life and graduated with honors from high school in Ohio, after his parents escaped slavery.

Young taught elementary school and eventually entered the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he was its third Black graduate.  He went on to become the first Black military attaché to a foreign country and served in various assignments from Haiti and Liberia to Mexico and Nigeria.  When he was medically discharged from active duty, Col. Young was the highest-ranking Black officer in the military, having been promoted to colonel.

He was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General in 2022.