WATERLOO – Calling all Korean War Vets! In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in Korea, Celebrate Commemorate invites all living Korean War vets to participate in the annual parade.
Two floats will be featured at the beginning of the parade. One, constructed by the Friends of Sampson State Park, will honor the Sampson Air Force Veterans who received their Air Force training at Sampson. The second float, constructed by several 4-H Clubs in Seneca County, will feature all other Korean War Vets. Vets who are able to march will be asked to walk between the two floats.
“The theme of our annual Celebration and Commemoration is ‘Waterloo Remembers’, “ said co chair Jane Shaffer, “and this year we believe it is fitting that we honor those heroic men and women who helped secure freedom for our allies during the Cold War.” According to US military records, 134 US soldiers received the Medal of Honor for their heroism during the conflict.
The annual Celebrate Commemorate parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 25. Following the parade, the VFW at 25 West Elisha Street will offer a buffet luncheon for all Korean veterans.
Korean veterans who plan to participate are asked to contact parade co-chair Kaaren Gerlach 315-539-2927 or Kaarengerlach@yahoo.com or co-chair Doris Wolf 315 539 8302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, it was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War. The U.S. provided 88% of the 341,000 international soldiers who aided South Korean forces. The active stage of the war ended on July 27, 1953, when the armistice agreement was signed.
In the U.S., the war was initially described by President Harry S. Truman as a "police action" because it was conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. It also has been referred to as "The Forgotten War" or "The Unknown War" because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war.
“When I got home from the war, there were no parades, no TV or radio interviews,” said Jim Lewis of Waterloo, who is working on the parade committee. “No one knew I’d been gone two years. It wasn’t like it is today.”
Lewis had served in the U.S. Army in World War II and was recalled for the Korean War as an Army Reservist. He was stationed in the 10th Station Hospital in Korea and later was chief NCO in the operating room in a hospital in Tokyo, Japan. Now he works with the Waterloo Korean War Veterans Association and for many years headed the annual Memorial Day parade on May 30 in Waterloo.
The Korean War was relatively short but exceptionally bloody. Nearly 5 million people died. More than half of these–about 10 percent of Korea’s prewar population–were civilians. This rate of civilian casualties was higher than World War II’s and Vietnam’s. According to the data from the US Department of Defense, the United States suffered 33,686 battle deaths, 2,830 non-battle deaths, 8,176 missing in action, and more than 100,000 wounded. Four New Yorkers were among the heroes receiving the Medal of Honor. They include US Navy Hospital Corpsman Edward C. Benfold, Marine Corps Sergeant Frederick W. Mausert, Marine Corps Reservist Hector A. Cafferata Jr., and U.S. Army Private First Class William Thompson.
The armistice agreement established a DeMilitarized Zone north of the 38th Parallel in Korea, with the communist government aided by China and the Soviet Union to the north and the capitalist government, aided by the US and UN allies, to the south. The Korean peninsula is still divided today. The Armistice also called upon the governments of South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States to participate in continued peace talks. The war is considered to have ended with the signing of the armistice, even though there was no peace treaty.
The 14th annual Celebrate Commemorate event will be held May 24-27 in Waterloo, the Birthplace of Memorial Day. For more information about the events, go to www.waterloony.com.
The 147th consecutive commemoration of Memorial Day will be on Thursday, May 30. It will include prayer services, and the official Memorial Day parade at 6 pm.