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Korean War Memorial dedication Sunday; Ceremony kickoff at Eco Park

By Staff | Mar 26, 2008

The Korean War Veterans Association recently completed its Korean War Veterans Memorial project in Eco Park and has announced a dedication ceremony will be held for the monument Sunday.

“In looking at all of the other war memorials in that area of the park, I came up with the idea that we should also honor all of the Korean War veterans,” said Don Hamm-Johnson, president of the Korean War Veterans Association 155 of Southwest Florida. “We have 8,177 Korean War veterans who have never been accounted for.”

Armed with the idea, Hamm-Johnson approached the city and his fellow association members whom he said were all on board with the project.

“We all wanted to show people to remember the Korean War and how it never really ended,” he said. “It (Korea) is still divided and so many young fellows lost their lives or never came home.”

Hamm-Johnson said it took approximately $10,000 to turn the memorial idea into reality and the association held a series of fund-raisers in order to secure the needed funding.

“We sent letters out to individuals and businesses in the area and we asked for donations,” he said. “We also held two motorcycle rides and the community responded wonderfully. Everyone has been so good about helping.”

After securing the funding, the group had to approach the city and determine what it could construct. The result is a 4-foot by 4-foot slant face monument, which weighs an astounding 12,800 pounds. The composition on the monument was collectively designed by the association.

“It is done in paradise black granite and has the outline of Korea etched onto the surface,” said Hamm-Johnson.

The inside of the etching of Korea features some key places of interest from the war, including Seoul, which is the capitol of South Korea, and P’young Yang, the capitol of North Korea. There is also an etching done of the route in which the UN troops were driven into the southeast corner of the UN parameter in 1959 and of the UN advance line, which runs across the whole north of Korea.

“We also have included some statistics from the war on the memorial like the etching of President Truman’s name and dates of the war — June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953,” said Hamm-Johnson. “We took all of the stats from the Korean War Memorial in D.C. like U.S. killed: 54,246 and UN killed: 628,833.”

The dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m at Eco Park. The event will feature opening music performed by the Lee County Pipes and Drum group, and special guest speakers, including Cape Coral Mayor Eric Feichthaler, Brig. Gen. Jeong of the Korean Delegation at MacDill and local resident Talsop Lee.

The Cape Elementary School Chorus will sing patriotic songs and the Marine Corps League Honor Guard, VFW Post 8463 Honor Guard and the Lexington Vets Association Honor Guard will perform the presentation and posting of the colors.

“Its important for people to come view this memorial,” said Hamm-Johnson. “We are trying to impact the public by remembering the tragedy of this war. It is very important we don’t forget.”