UNION COUNTY — The State of South Carolina has been allotted more than 4,000 copies of a book printed by the Republic of Korea in honor of Korean War veterans and all of them have been delivered to Union County for distribution.
“Korea Reborn: A Grateful Nation Honors War Veterans for 60 Years of Growth” is a hardbound, 160-page coffee-table book printed through the efforts of the public and private sectors of South Korea lead by the Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs and the Federation of Korean Industries.
The book was produced to cap the three-year Korean War 60th Commemorative period and is a “gift of gratitude” from the industries and government of South Korea to the American veterans of the war.
Union County Veterans Affairs Officer Cindy Fore said that South Carolina has been allotted 4,240 copies of the book, all of which were delivered to Union County Friday afternoon.
“This is the designated drop-off point,” Fore said. “The other counties will have to come here to pick their copies for their veterans.”
Fore said veterans affairs personnel from Lancaster and Chesterfield counties have already picked up their allotments and that more counties will pick up theirs on Saturday.
Of the copies allotted to South Carolina, 47 will be distributed to the Korean War veterans of Union County during Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony. Fore said she agreed to receive South Carolina’s copies of the books to ensure that the county’s veterans got their copies on Veterans Day.
“I just wanted to get them here in time for the ceremony,” Fore said.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when 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.
In the three years that followed, 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.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the armistice — signed on July 27, 1953 by the United Nations Command, supported by the United States, the North Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteers — that ended the fighting though not the war itself. Sixty years after the fighting came to an end, there is still no peace treaty formally ending the war, and the American military, together with their South Korean counterparts, continue to patrol the DMZ separating the two Koreas.
In the years immediately following the war, South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world with a per capita income lower than that of most Latin American nations and even some African nations.
Sixty years after the signing of the armistice, however, South Korea has “one of the most powerful economies in the world, having made the impressive rise from a donor recipient nation to a giving nation with less than 3.5 percent unemployment.”
With the progress of the last 60 years in mind and in recognition of the role America’s Korean War veterans played in making it all possible, the Federation of Korean Industries “chose to become the funding source behind the largest gift of its kind to ever be presented to all veterans of a designated war period.”
The announcement released by Fore quotes Jin Haeng Chung, president of the Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Group on the book and the part it can play in helping strengthen ties between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.
“I fully agree that this project is worthwhile to pursue for the sake of strengthening of the U.S.-Korea relationship,” Chung said. “We hope this opportunity will help to strengthen the alliance and cooperation between our two countries.”
The books will be presented to Union County’s Korean War veterans during the Veterans Day Ceremony which will be held on Monday at 11:30 a.m. on Main Street in downtown Union.
Congress has proclaimed 2013 the “Year of the Korean War Veteran” and in keeping with that proclamation, the county’s Korean War veterans will receive several other special honors in addition to the copies of Korea Reborn.
Those honors include certificates from the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott honoring veterans who served during the Korean War Era. Veterans of military service during that era will also receive special medallions.
Veterans who actually served in Korea during the war will receive a special medal from the DOD which carries with it a reminder that the Korean peninsula remains divided. Encased in the medals are a piece of barbed wire from the border of the two Koreas.
The ceremony will include the placing of a wreath at the War Memorial and Fore announced Friday that of the two veterans who will place the wreath, one will be Donald Bolton, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War. The other will be Capt. Benjamin Thornton, a S.C. Army National Guard veteran of Kosovo.
While the Korean War veterans will be receiving special honors, the ceremony will also honor the veterans and family members of veterans of other wars as well.
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 marshal.
World War II veteran Dr. Gerald Fielder will be the recipient of the first lifetime achievement award presented by the Veterans Day Parade Committee.
Union County’s Gold Star Mothers — Lockhart residents Azalee Ashe, the mother of Frank L. Barbee, and Betty Baxley, the mother of Thomas Ratliff — will be recognized during the ceremony. Gold Star Mothers are those who have had their children die while in military service.
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.
Vietnam veteran Jantzen Childers, who will serve 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.
Prior to the ceremony music will be provided by the Union County High School Chorus.
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. 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, Union Public Safety Director Sam White, and Jonesville Police Chief Jimmy Kimbrell; elected officials; and the winners of the Veterans Day poster and essay contests for the day school and the public schools.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org