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Columbia VA Health Care System Hosts Korean War Memorial at Korean War Monument

A Korean War Veteran renders a salute
A Korean War Veteran renders a salute during the Korean War Commemoration Ceremony at Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VAMC.

The Columbia VA Health Care System (VAHCS) hosted a Korean War Remembrance Ceremony at their Korean War Monument, June 23, to honor the brave men and women who served in the Korean War and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the conflict.

The Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, was a significant event in American history. Often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” the three-year engagement claimed the lives of more than 36,000 American military personnel, and had a profound impact on the Korean people, with millions losing their lives or being displaced from their homes.

Acting Director/CEO of the Columbia VAHCS, John Merkle, expressed his appreciation for the Veterans' service and emphasized the significance of the memorial event:

“Today we remember the sacrifices made by those who served in the Korean War. We honor the heroes who fought valiantly on foreign soil, enduring unimaginable hardships, enduring the harsh Korean winters, and battling against a determined enemy. We pay tribute to the fallen, whose lives were tragically cut short, and express our gratitude to the Veterans who returned home, forever marked by their experiences,” said Merkle. “May this gathering serve as an opportunity for healing and remembrance. May it remind us of the importance of cherishing our freedoms and supporting those who have bravely served our nation. As we stand before this monument, let us renew our commitment to honoring the legacy of the Korean War and ensuring that the sacrifices made by those who fought are never forgotten.”

The ceremony featured a presentation of the colors by the Richland County Honor Guard, a performance of both the U.S. and South Korean national anthems, guest speakers, and a wreath laying ceremony.

Speaking in tribute to her late father, Col. (USAF) Frank Culver III, Marsha Culver relayed war stories of her father’s time piloting aircraft during the Korean War and expressed gratitude for the ceremony. “I can only imagine [my father] smiling down right now at all of you, who gather together once a year to honor the memory of so many very, very important people that we’ll never know.”

For Yong-Nam Hong, Columbia native and event organizer, this remembrance ceremony serves as a moment to honor her family. “Our family paid a great price during the war, as did countless others. My father was captured by North Korean soldiers a few days after the invasion, and my mother endured captivity and torture at their hands. Her suffering continued long after the war ended, leading to her untimely death.,” said Yong. “I owe my life to someone who saved me and my sister from unimaginable tragedy. My sister and I were rescued and protected by some American soldiers, and my story is not unique. There are many similar tales of heroism and compassion.”

For more information about what’s going on at the Veterans medical center, clinic locations and other services available to Veterans in and around Columbia, visit the website and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, keyword: VAColumbiaSC.

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