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Putting a face to the name: New Hampshire proclaims new observances, names new bridges, and more

Old Man of the Mountain sign
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Every year, New Hampshire legislators consider a host of bills establishing commemorative days and naming bridges and highways after various notables. It’s easy to overlook these bills as the product of legislative “sausage making,” but they say a great deal about how New Hampshire—by way of its legislators—sees itself. Let’s take a look at some of this year’s “naming” bills and where they’ve ended up.

HB 140: Establish “Granny D” Day

This bill would honor political activist Doris “Granny D” Haddock of Dublin, New Hampshire, who walked 3,200 miles across the United States between 1999 and 2000 to promote campaign finance reform. She began when she was 88 and finished the journey at age 90. Granny D Day would have been celebrated on Haddock’s birthday, January 24, but the House voted against the idea this February.

HB 180: Change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day

This bill has been tabled in the House, pausing debate, but the contention around Columbus Day continues. Columbus Day is seen by some as a celebration of a brutal colonialist, by others as an important part of Italian American heritage.

HB 189: Name Private First Class Nicholas Cournoyer Highway

This bill, which has been signed into law by Gov. Sununu, renames a portion of route 140 in Gilmanton as the Private First Class Nicholas Cournoyer Highway. Cournoyer, a native of Gilmanton, was 25 years old when he was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.

HB 20: Name a Merrimack bridge after the Honorable Richard “Dick” Hinch

This bill was signed into law honoring former New Hampshire Speaker of the House Dick Hinch, who occupied the office just one week before passing away from COVID-19 at age 71. Hinch was a U.S. Navy veteran, held many volunteer civic positions, and served six terms in the New Hampshire House before his election to Speaker in 2020. In his remarks that day he said, “We may have different ideas, but we all want to do what we believe is right, and there is nothing political or partisan about that.”

HB 213: Rename Little Haystack Mountain as Mount Kosciuszko

Tadeusz Kościuszko was a Polish military engineer, statesman, and military leader who took part in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army. The House voted down this bill, in part because the mountain is on federal land.

HB 33: Establish Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness Day

This bill did not become law, but if it had, March 2 would be established as PCOS Awareness Day. The disease impacts hormones during reproductive years, causing cysts to develop along the outer edge of the ovaries. Early diagnosis and treatment lowers the risk of long-term complications, which is why awareness is particularly important.

HB 65: Establish Dover Mill Girls Recognition Day

This bill would have honored the “Dover Mill Girls” on December 30, in recognition of the first all-women labor strike in the state of New Hampshire. On that day in 1828, some 600 female workers at the Cocheco Manufacturing Company walked out in protest against a 5 cent wage decrease from their 47 cent/day wages, along with other grievances. A House committee voted against this bill and noted this might not actually be the first women’s labor strike in the United States.

HB 96: Establish Old Man of the Mountain Day

Now that the governor has signed this bill into law, May 3 is recognized as “Old Man of the Mountain Day.” On that day in 2003, the iconic granite cliff formation on Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire collapsed.

This is just a sampling of 2023 bills seeking to name New Hampshire holidays, bridges, and more. You can see a complete list on our Bills page by selecting the “State Names and Icons” category. You can also learn about the difference between official state holidays and observances in our episode of $100 Plus Mileage from back in Season 1 on the topic.


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