Washington veterans group raises funds for a Korean War memorial

Visitors to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. walk past one of the memorial's statues, May 28, 2018.


By CALLEY HAIR | The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian | Published: December 23, 2018

VANCOUVER, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — A local group of Korean War veterans is determined to ensure that their fallen brothers in arms are honored in a permanent way.

The Clark County chapter of the National Korean War Veterans Association Inc., the Richard L. Quatier Chapter, has been aggressive in its fundraising efforts for a national Wall of Remembrance. The wall would display the names of the thousands of Americans who died during the oft-overlooked conflict in a glass monument, etching their sacrifice into history.

“These people all died on behalf of the freedom of this country, freedom of South Korea and freedom all over the world,” said Ed Barnes, a Korean veteran and leader of the local chapter’s effort to build a memorial.

Nine allies of the U.S. in the Korean War already have erected memorials for those soldiers, Barnes argued in a speech to about three dozen fellow Korean veterans who gathered Wednesday, Dec. 19, for their monthly chapter meeting.

“Every country of those nine countries all have monuments to their soldiers that were killed in Korea, and they all have their names on it. Here we’ve got a United States of America, where we have 36,574 Americans who got killed in Korea, and there’s still no Wall of Remembrance like the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. It’s really a shame that we can’t do better in the United States.”

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama signed Senate Bill 1982, a bill to authorize private contributions toward the memorial wall. The bill was cosponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

As proposed, the wall would be incorporated into the Korean War Veterans Memorial that currently resides on the National Mall. Current designs indicate the wall would be made of laminated glass and would circle half of the memorial’s Pool of Remembrance.

The Korean War earned the moniker “The Forgotten War” in part because of its placement in U.S. history.

The 1950s conflict took place in the shadow of World War II and was followed promptly by the lengthy, contentious Vietnam War. Sandwiched between two bigger wars, the three-year Korean War faded into the background.

But for the soldiers who fought, the war is far from forgotten. And as the generation defined by the conflict ages, they’ve spurred an effort to keep the memory of their sacrifice alive.

Since its founding in 2012, the Richard L. Quatier Chapter of Korean veterans has been an active one. At their December meeting, veterans filled the room at the 40 et 8 Chateau in east Hazel Dell for a lively meeting to debate officer elections, to organize an upcoming trip to Washington and to update members on the fundraising effort.

Commander James Mead said that so far, the chapter has raised $23,456 since it started its funding push in August.

“Butcher Boys gave us $200,” he reported to the room.

“Labor Roundtable of Southwest Washington gave us $250. IBEW Local No. 48 gave us a check for $10,000,” he continued, drawing an excited murmur from the crowd.

The local chapter received a quiet visit from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., earlier this year, though Barnes said they didn’t publicize the meet-up to avoid being used for political points in an election season.

“We keep politics out,” Barnes shrugged.

He’s hoping that the effort will pick up more steam, especially from businesses and corporations.

“I don’t understand why a lot of these big corporations haven’t jumped into this thing. It should already be paid for,” Barnes said, adding that anyone who knows of a business or an individual who wants to contribute money should reach out to him.

The National Korean War Veterans Association meets at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at 40 et 8 Chateau, 7607 N.E. 26th Ave. in Vancouver. Inquiries can be sent to jabhager@gmail.com.

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