UNION COUNTY — The veterans of the last unresolved conflict of the Cold War will be honored during this year’s Union County Veterans Day Program.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting in the Korean War which began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. Two days later on June 27, 1950, the United Nations adopted a resolution recommending that its members provide South Korea with assistance to repel the North Korean attack. The United States of America and 20 other nations responded by providing troops and other military assistance to South Korea.
The fighting — but not the war itself — ended on July 27, 1953 with the signing of the armistice between the United Nations Command, supported by the United States, the North Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteers.
During the three years leading up to the armistic, the United States provided nearly 90 percent of the 341,000 soldiers that fought in the war. Of those Americans who fought in the war, more the 33,000 were killed and another 7,900 are listed as missing in action.
The service of the American veterans of the Korean War is being commemorated this year at both the local and national level.
In Union County, local Korean War veterans will receiv special recognition during the Union County Veterans Day program at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11.
Veterans Affairs Officer Cindy Fore announced Friday that approximately 40 Korean War veterans have submitted their military discharge information to her office. She said those veterans will sit in a place of honor during the program and be recognized for their service and receive medals, medallions and certificates commemorating that service.
“We will be recognizing all of our veterans including World War II, Vietnam, Persian Gulf/Iraq/Afghanistan, and peacetime veterans and Homeland Security personnel and active duty military personnel,” Fore said. “There will be a special emphasis, however, on our Korean War veterans.”
That emphasis will include a certificate that Fore said will be issued by the Veterans Day Parade Committee, as well as some special honors issued by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
“They will be receiving certificates from the DOD and Sen. Scott’s office,” Fore said. “There will also be medallions for Korean Era veterans.”
For those who actually served in the Korea War there will be a special honor that includes a reminder that the Korean peninsula remains divided between the communist north and the free south.
“The DOD has issued medals for those who actually served in the Korean War,” Fore said. “Encased in the medals is a piece of barbed wire that comes from the border of the two Koreas.”
Fore said the ceremony will also include the presentation of the first lifetime achievement award the committee has ever presented. She said the recipient will be longtime physician and World War II veteran Dr. Gerald Fielder.
The Veteran of the Year will be U.S. Air Force veteran Billy Knight.
Afghanistan veteran Kevin Brewington will be both guest speaker and parade marshall.
Though they have yet to be named, Fore said that this year the wreath placed at the War Memorial on Main Street will be placed by two Korean War veterans and a veteran of the Kosovo deployment.
Also honored during the ceremony will be Union County’s Gold Star Mothers. Gold Star Mothers are those who have had their children die while in military service.
Fore said this year’s Gold Star Mothers will be Lockhart residents Azalee Ashe, the mother of Frank L. Barbee, and Betty Baxley, the mother of Thomas Ratliff.
Also recognized during the ceremony will be Union County’s Blue Star Families. Blue Star Families are those who have a family member currently serving in the military.
Music will also be a part of the day’s activities with pre-ceremony music provided by the Union County High School Chorus.
Fore said that Vietnam veteran Jantzen Childers, who will be serving as master of ceremonies, will perform patriotic music accompanied by Mike Stalnaker who will perform the lyrics of the songs Childers will sing in sign language.
The ceremony will also feature a musical performance by Breanna Bailey, a student at Foster Park Elementary School.
Jacob Boineau, a senior at Union County High School, will help open the ceremony by signing the Star Spangled Banner.
Fore said the Union County High School JROTC will raise the service organization flags at the beginning of the ceremony.
The invocation will be delivered by the Rev. Malachi Rogers while Korean War veteran Freddie L. Shirley will deliver the closing prayer.
The ceremony will be preceded by the Veterans Day Parade down Main Street which Fore said will begin at 10:30 a.m. She said veterans who plan to walk or ride in the parade should begin gathering in front of the Union County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m.
Also scheduled to participate in the parade are the Union County High School Color Guard and Unit; the Union Christian Day School Band; Union County Sheriff David Taylor and Union Public Safety Director Sam White; elected officials; and the winners of the Veterans Day poster and essay contests for the day school and the public schools.
Fore said anyone who is interested in participating in the parade can call her at 864-429-1605.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com