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Dedication Held For “Merle Haggard Memorial Overpass”

Travelers speeding along Interstate Five might not notice in their haste that as they cross over Highway 44, they’re on the “Merle Haggard Memorial Overpass”. A dedication ceremony was organized Wednesday by State Senator Ted Gaines, who got the ball rolling on the designation by getting it authorized in the legislature. Money for the signs was raised locally through dozens of private donations. Merle’s widow, Theresa Haggard, was present at the dedication and she said that for a man who lived much of his life on the road, an overpass is an appropriate tribute. Merle’s family has lived in Palo Cedro for many years. He passed away last year at the age of 79. Merle Haggard always championed the working man through his music, and his own beginnings were very modest. Haggard was born into a family that had moved to California from Oklahoma and lived in a converted boxcar. He quit school and hopped a freight train at the age of 14 and his life on the road began. After a series of petty crimes ended with almost 3 years in San Quentin, Haggard found what his musical talent could do for him. He won multiple Grammys and other honors, and had a long string of number one country hits, but always embraced the roots of honky tonk and western swing. As Bob Dylan said, “Merle Haggard has always been as deep as it gets. He definitely transcends the country genre.”