Thoughts of the Past and Reflections
Of all the numerous commemorative events, ceremonies, and meetings that were part of the Korean War Veterans Association annual convention in Washington, DC from July 22nd through the
27th, probably the two most poignant and reflective were the reading of the Names of the Fallen at the Korean War Veterans Memorial and KWVA member Sam Fielder’s recitation of his poem
“Remembrance” at the Bench of Remembrance near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery.
In Sam’s excerpted words:
“We gather here at Arlington, we veterans of the Korean War, to honor our fallen comrades like we’ve done many time before…we lost many friends in the Korean War, from the Pusan
Perimeter, to the Yalu River and Chosin Reservoir….yes we lost them in the foxholes, trenches, and open terrain, three boys who worked with my dad on the farm—Bob Scarbough, Garland
Lyle, and Buford Edward Kane….so we gather here at Arlington, we veterans of the Korean War, to honor our fallen comrades who will live in our hearts and minds forevermore.”
Sam’s poem, recited on Sunday, July 26th, was given even more meaning by the reading of the Names of the Fallen on the following day at the Korean War Veterans Memorial…”….Buford Edward
Kane, Garland Lyle, and Bob Scarbough….”
A Colorful Convention Kickoff for KWVA Members
General Dennis Via, Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), and audience members from across the country honored and remembered the service of Korean War veterans during
the U.S. Army Military District of Washington’s Twilight Tattoo, held on the first day of the convention, Wednesday, July 22nd on Whipple Field at Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall. AMC
is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness to ensure dominant land force capability for the U.S. warfighter and the Nation’s allies.
More than 70 Korean War veterans and their
families were honored for their service during the Twilight Tattoo performance. Additionally, the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the 20th anniversary of the Korean War
Veterans Memorial were also remembered. With more than 100 Old Guard soldiers dressed in period Army uniforms, the show provided a fast-paced journey throughout Army history, from the
Revolutionary War to the Army’s involvement in current military operations.
Business Meetings—A Key to Sound Association Management
Both the Board of Directors meeting on Thursday and the Annual Membership Meeting on Friday were conducted in an atmosphere that fostered positive dialogue and productive
Without a doubt, the issue that prompted the most discussion and that became a significant take-away from the meetings, was the critical need for enhanced recruitment.
With membership numbers dwindling, efforts to reach out and attract new members are to receive the highest priority.
All those present at both meetings seemed to come together and agree
that they would like to see the membership grow and be inclusive of all those who have served in Korea from 1945 to the present, as stated in the By-Laws. Without increased outreach
efforts to recruit each person who meets the criteria as it currently reads, there will be only a slight amount of growth, perhaps sufficient enough to sustain current membership levels,
but certainly not enough to produce an acceleration in membership growth, which is sorely needed.
It was felt by a majority of those present that there is an opportunity “staring us in
the face” to gain significant new membership by recruiting from the fairly large pool of post-armistice veterans. With renewed efforts in leveraging the press in order to get the word out
to the general public, politicians, other veteran organizations (VFW, American Legion, etc.), and most importantly, post-armistice veterans, we should expect to see positive signs of
Getting Right to the 'Corps'
Following the Annual Membership meeting on Friday, July 24th, the KWVA members and their families boarded two buses and headed to Marine Barracks, 8th and Eye Streets, for a real
treat—the Evening Parade.
The ‘Oldest Post of the Corps’ was established in 1801, and Marines there have performed military reviews and ceremonies since its founding. The present-day
Evening Parade was first conducted on July 5, 1957. The basic format for the parade seen by the KWVA attendees was similar to that envisioned and directed by Major Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.,
who would eventually become the 24th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The Parade Deck is bordered on its long axis by graceful maple trees and shrubs fronting officers’ row and the
barracks’ administrative offices, to the north of the picturesque home of the Commandants, and to the south the Marine Band Hall made famous by the immortal John Philip Sousa. Having seen
and heard the ‘President’s Own’ (Marine Band) and the ‘Commandant’s Own’ (the Drum and Bugle Corps), and witnessing the Marine Silent Drill Platoon, it was indeed a grand evening for the
KWVA members in attendance.
The Principal Event—At the Korean War Memorial
On that very special day, KWVA members and other veterans remembered all who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Attendees were invited to take notice of “America’s Freedom
Bell” which was on display at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The bell is sponsored by the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, and is a symbol of patriotism and pride for our Nation’s armed
The official party for the morning’s commemoration included:
- Ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Korea, the Honorable Han Ho-Young;
- Acting Deputy Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, National Park Service, Ms. Karen Cucurullo;
- President of the Korean War Veterans Association, Mr. Larry Kinard;
- Vice Minister of the Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs, Republic of Korea, the Honorable Wankeun Choi;
- Senator Yonah Martin, Canadian Parliament;
- Major General Kyoung Soo Shin, Defense Attache, Embassy of the Republic of Korea
Attendees then enjoyed hearing the song “The Forgotten War” performed by Mr. Bob Regan, who founded “Operation Song” to empower veterans and active duty personnel to tell their stories
through the process of songwriting in creative and therapeutic settings. Following his song and brief remarks, Mr. Regan indicated that he will be adding a new verse to include “the
Following a series of remarks by invited guests, four wreaths were presented for (1) the Republic of Korea, (2) the National Park Service, (3) the United Nations, and
(4) the Korean War Veterans Association.
A Special Table at the Banquet and a Wreath Laying
At the banquet on Saturday evening, amid all of the various speeches and remarks given by invited guests, there was a singular tribute to those who could not be in attendance because
they had paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War. Out of the deepest respect for those who have given up all of their tomorrows so that we in the United States, and those in the
Republic of Korea, can live in lands that are free and prosperous, Mr. Bill Mc Swain directed our attention to the ‘Missing Man Table’ and offered these remarks (excerpt):
chairs represent Americans who were, or are, missing from each of the armed services—Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as civilians—let us raise our glasses in
a toast to honor America’s POWs and MIAs, and to the safety of all now serving our nation.”
Our Sunday morning was highlighted by the laying of two wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. Chairman Moo-sung accompanied by members of the Saenuri Party from the Republic of Korea placed the first wreath at the tomb. Many KWVA members
were on hand as Ambassador Ahn Ho-young, and Mr. Larry Kinard, presented the second wreath at the tomb of the unknown veteran of the Korean War.
For a six-day period that had included
parades, numerous ceremonies, business meetings, and even trips to the White House, Mount Vernon, and the Botanical Gardens in Washington, the commemorative events at Arlington National
Cemetery on Sunday morning were certainly a most fitting way to conclude a highly productive, memorable, and thoroughly enjoyable annual convention of the Korean War Veterans Association.
Fred Lash, Public Relations