Monument to Korean War veterans unveiled at ceremony in Florence Veterans Park
FLORENCE, S.C. – America’s Forgotten War will always be remembered in Florence County.
On Sunday, at the 10th annual Veterans Day ceremony at Florence Veterans Park, the Florence Veterans Honor Guard unveiled a monument to those who served in the Korean War.
Kenneth Moore was one Korean War veteran attending Sunday’s ceremony. He served in the United States Army in Korea in 1951.
Moore described serving during the war as terrible.
“Fighting the enemy is one thing,” Moore said. “The weather was frosty. A lot of guys died of frostbite or lost an arm or a leg. I was fortunate to get by.”
Moore said he thought the dedication of the monument was wonderful.
“We lost a lot of good men and I came home to a good wife,” Moore said.
He attended the ceremony with his wife, Doris.
Eugene Piersol served two tours of duty in the Korean War. He said he remembered the weather. He said it was hot and humid during the summer and really cold in the winter.
Lewis Vaughn of the Korean War Veterans Association spoke at the ceremony. He said that the Veterans Park was beautiful, that the Korean War memorial was a fitting tribute and that he was jealous of Florence’s Veterans Park. He said the park showed the commitment of the county and city to honoring those who have served in the armed forces. Vaughn is a former member of the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives.
The memorial was constructed with some funds from the Florence County Council and others. The Florence County Council had money left over after it provided some funds for the construction of a Vietnam War memorial, which was unveiled at a previous Veterans Day ceremony. Early this year, the council allocated those leftover funds for the construction of a memorial to America’s Forgotten War.
Called America’s Forgotten War, the Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United States became involved in the war to prevent the communistic takeover of the entire Korean peninsula and at the request of the United Nations. The United Nations force, led by the United States, invaded and quickly pushed the North Koreans back toward the North Korean-Chinese border (the Yalu River) before the Chinese intervened and the war stalemated around the original border. An armistice was signed by the parties, the United States, China, and both Koreas, on July 27, 1953, creating the demilitarized zone to separate the Koreas.
Eighteen Florence residents were killed in the three years of war. Before the memorial was unveiled Col. (Ret.) Barringer F. Wingard Jr. read those names aloud. After the unveiling, taps was sounded to honor them.
No peace treaty has ever been signed to end the conflict.
The United States maintains a troop presence on the Korean peninsula, mostly along the demilitarized zone. The United States military presence is currently called United States Forces Korea and it mostly consists of the Eighth Army and the Seventh Air Force. There are also smaller detachments from the Navy and the Marine Corps. There are around 30,000 United States troops in South Korea.
Sunday’s ceremony also marked two important anniversaries. One hundred years ago, soldiers on both sides of the trenches in World War I laid down their weapons as an armistice went into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
Brigadier Gen. Milford H. Beagle, the commanding general of Fort Jackson in Columbia, spoke about World War I, which was supposed to be the conflict that ended all wars.
“World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, shook nations of the world for over four years,” Beagle said. “Twenty million lives lost. You think about that. There’s five million in South Carolina. Twenty million lives lost.”
Veterans Day was originally established as Armistice Day to commemorate those who served in the war. The day was changed after World War II ended to commemorate all veterans.
Beagle also explained the importance of using silence to remember those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifices. Later, he asked those attending to pause for a moment of silence to honor them.
Florence County Council Chairman Kent Caudle and state Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman also spoke during the ceremony.
Sunday also marked the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Florence Veterans Park. Florence Veterans Park was officially opened on Nov. 11, 2008, and includes memorials to the wars of the 20th century including World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War. The park is adjacent to the Florence Center on Woody Jones Boulevard.