In some ways, it's easy to think less about historical wars, and the people who fought in them, as time goes by. Decades have passed since World War II and the Korean War, and many of those who took part in these conflicts have passed away. However, in spite of the march of time, it's essential to let surviving vets from that era know that their service to their country has not been forgotten. One way to keep the bond with these generations strong is to ensure that honors are handed out where they've been earned, even though more than half a century has passed.
South Korea honors American vets of Korean War
Although there have been times when the Korean War has failed to attract the historical notice it deserves, the South Korean government recently took the time to remember and honor the American military personnel who served. According to Deseret News, a recent ceremony in Salt Lake City involved the presentation of Ambassador for Peace medals to 67 Utah-based veterans of the war.
The event came about at the behest of John Cole, a Marine Corps veteran. When he received the Ambassador of Peace Medal in Korea, he realized that it is an honor that deserves to be shared by his fellow vets. Now, he works with state organizations and the Korean Consulate to make it possible for others to receive recognition.
"It's important to let vets know their contributions are valued while they're with us."
Participants reflected on the meaning of the service to Deseret News. Former Marines draftsman Gene Christiansen explained that seeing the progress South Korea has made in the decades since he fought alongside its military makes him proud of his time there. Army vet James Willis expressed surprise at having the ceremony after all these years and noted that it is a timely event as veterans of the Korean War are aging. It's important to let vets know their contributions are valued while they're with us.
Wartime Service Medals handed out in Connecticut
Another effort to give out overdue honors took place in Connecticut. According to the Hartford Courant, assisted living facility One MacDonough Place and the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a ceremony for veterans from three different conflicts. Korean War Army vet Richard Hassett and World War II Navy vet Bob Steele are among the facility's residents, and the community's dining services director Edward Gorman III served on a submarine during the Gulf War. All three men received Wartime Service Medals, cementing ties between decades of service and branches of the military.
The ceremony also served as a remembrance for four veterans who have passed away. Four men received posthumous medals, two of whom served in World War II, and the other two in the Korean War. The Hartford Courant explained that Connecticut uses the Wartime Service Medal as a way to commemorate state residents who fought during times of crisis. The efforts these veterans made in wartime have had repercussions through the years.
Veterans from some of the conflicts that defined America and the world are getting older, but it's not too late to honor their sacrifices and contributions, and to let them know they are remembered.