Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bipartisan bill into law last week funding commemorative license plates for the Space Force, honoring the newest military service branch's heavy presence in the state.
The introduction of the bill followed a Military.com story in February that California, Colorado and Florida didn't offer commemorative plates for Guardians, despite housing Space Force bases in each of their states.
After reading Military.com's reporting earlier this year, Stephen Gourley, the vice president of Colorado's Air & Space Forces Association chapter, was motivated to take action.
Gourley reached out to the United Veterans Coalition of Colorado, a lobbying group in the state, to bend the ear of lawmakers.
"There have been instances where people don't recognize the Space Force has been established," Gourley said. "It's important to recognize that it exists and that the service is important for our way of life."
A bill to create a Space Force-specific license plate was submitted to the Colorado State Assembly on March 29. It was signed by Polis on June 8, and allocated $23,000 toward the creation of the plate.
A conceptual design of the license plate has been approved by the Department of the Air Force's Heraldry Office, Gourley said. He also testified about the significance of displaying Space Force's name on license plates to the Colorado General Assembly's finance committee.
The mockup of the plate showcases a satellite and a star floating in a black sky with the Rocky Mountains silhouetted. The Space Force logo, the delta and the service's motto, Semper Supra, are in the middle of the proposed plate.
A final design will ultimately be approved by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.
Colorado's new license plate is a small, and the most recent, example of how the Space Force is seeking widespread public recognition and acceptance from civilians two years after being established by former President Donald Trump.
Colorado is home to a Space Force base in Aurora and two in Colorado Springs. California has installations in El Segundo and near Lompoc. There is also a launch site near Cocoa Beach in Florida.
The Florida DMV does not offer Space Force license plates, although they do have offerings for every other service. Like in Colorado, the statehouse in the Sunshine State would have to approve funding for a new license plate to become a reality.
Michael McGee, a Florida resident and retired Air Force officer who spent 20 years in space operations, said he wishes there was a Space Force license plate and that he would be one of the first to sign up to receive one.
"It's inevitable that it'll happen, but I don't think they've thought about it as much as they should have," McGee told Military.com earlier this year. "I hope they can get this accomplished."
The California DMV does not offer a license plate with the Space Force logo or other specific branches, but does have logo options for veteran service organizations and other military honors.
Other states have had success in adopting a Space Force license plate.
Last year, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced a license plate option for active-duty or retired Space Force Guardians.
And earlier this year, Illinois state Rep. David Friess introduced a bill urging the creation of a Space Force license plate. He said a constituent gave him the idea.
"They're very proud of their service, and that's how they want people to know either they're serving or have served," Friess told Illinois media outlets at the time.
-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.