Last week, on July 27, our nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire in Korea, the signing of the armistice. Begun in 1950, the war in Korea was over
Veterans across the nation were hosted with celebrations, ways of saying thanks once more for their service. The Korean War, sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War, is sometimes tagged "the forgotten war". "Here in America, no war should ever be forgotten, and no veterans should ever be overlooked," President Barack Obama told veterans gathered at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. "There was," he continued, "it seemed, a desire to forget, to move on. They deserved better. Perhaps the highest tribute we can offer our veterans of Korea is to do what should have been done the day you came home."
President Obama asked the veterans to stand and be recognized. "Today, we can say with confidence that . . . Korea was a victory. When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom in stark contrast to the dire conditions endured by their countrymen in the North, that's a victory. That's your legacy."
My partner, Marla Elmquist, and I are making plans to further honor Korean veterans in McPherson County, Kansas. Marla and I previously have done two book-writing projects to record stories from World War II veterans, and now we hope to do the same for Korean veterans.
This is how we do it: we create partnerships between high school students and veterans. Students help veterans tell their stories, record them on computers, scan photographs, diaries, and newspaper articles, and format the stories for publication. Teams of McPherson County citizens manage publicity, finances, book inventory, and help with research for writing the stories.
In the end, Korean veterans have remembered and shared their personal experiences with students. Students, instead of reading about this era of American history, will have written their own collective account of what happened, knowing they have made a meaningful connection with senior citizens. One book, a collection of the stories is published and made available to libraries and bookstores. The result: a truly exceptional intergenerational experience. Stay tuned to know if Marla and I accomplish this!