Korean War Memorial
The original idea for a Korean War Memorial of some type came from a Korean woman who was saved by American troops during the Korean War. According to the Korean War Project, one of the premier Korean War websites on the Internet, Chayon Kim decided to take action to make such a memorial happen in 1979. Naturalized citizens of the United States, Kim formed the "National Committee for the Korean War Memorial." Hal Barker said, "She aggressively began a search for a location and supporters. She developed a detailed plan, and met with every governmental agency involved in approving such a project." As happens in so many organizations that start out as a good cause, the Committee removed their founder as the project gathered strength. There were many internal problems with the Committee before and after that, much of them recounted in hearings before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, US Senate, on October 29, 1985. The Committee eventually went defunct, and legislation to establish a memorial did not pass.
Hal Barker, who lived in Colorado at the time, had offered his services to the National Committee for the Korean War Memorial when its efforts first began. Disappointed that the memorial bill failed, he discussed with Colonel Badger of the American Battle Monuments Commission how the concept of a national memorial for Korean War veterans could be revived. Hal related on the Korean War Project website that, "Badger said the ABMC had authority to accept money from individuals, businesses, or others for purposes relating to the honoring of veterans. The money would do directly into a U.S. Treasury account." Hal Barker then sent a symbolic $10.00 to the ABMC. In return, he received the following letter, dated 12 December 1984:
Korean War veterans connected to the Internet know, for the most part, who Hal and Ted Barker are. Their "Korean War Project" has reached out to thousands of veterans nation and world wide. But many Korean War veterans are unaware of the fact that Ted and Hal’s father served in Korea, and that Hal cared enough about Korean War veterans to get involved from the outset in efforts to build a Korean War Memorial to honor veterans of that war. The $10.00 he gave was a symbolic gesture, but his many trips to Washington, DC, his numerous phone calls and letters, and later his online efforts to pay tribute to Korean War veterans are far more than symbolic. They represent the genuine measure of affection and appreciation that Hal has had for our nation’s Korean War veterans—long before the 50th anniversary of the war approached and it became fashionable to recognize the veterans of this terrible war. (Hats off to his brother, Ted, too. The Barker Brothers’ "Korean War Project" website went online in February of 1995.)
In 1985, nine months after the ten-dollar bill from Hal Barker started the trust fund for the Korean War Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Association came into existence. Although the KWVA did not conceive the idea of a memorial in Washington, DC., it did come into existence with one of its main objectives being to help build a memorial for Korean War veterans. In the subsequent months and years, what the KWVA did as a national organization to help move the project along was phenomenal. The KWVA’s efforts are chronicled in the pages of some of the earliest issues of The Graybeards, copies of which were sent to the Korean War Educator by member Stan Hadden of Gulf Breeze, Florida.
For instance, The Graybeards May 1988 issue said that the agenda for the annual business meeting at the national convention in 1988 included, "How to raise funds for the memorial." The same issue of The Graybeards had a "Here’s How You Can Help…" column. Its verbatim message was as follows:
Here’s How You Can Help…
BUT WE MUST RAISE ABOUT FOUR MILLION DOLLARS and various events are planned to happen to help find that money. Here are some:
June 14 - baseball game at Philadelphia will feature the Korean War as the Forgotten War – and show the public how to contribute to the memorial.
July 25 - Kickoff press conference at National Press Club in Washington, D.C. YOU CAN HELP by asking your local and area newspapers, radio, and television people to interview Korean War veterans and to include a donation pledge for the memorial.
July 26 - Issuance of Presidential proclamation setting aside the entire week as Korean War Veterans Week. YOU CAN HELP by asking your mayor and governor to act likewise. If you need a copy of the official proclamation, write us.
July 26 - TV tour of the memorial site selection; maybe announcement of competition for design, etc. We hope to have included in this some combat footage. YOU CAN HELP by asking your news media to run a documentary on the Korean War, and how the memorial will honor the sacred dead and recognize the part in history by all who served.
DURING A WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY we plan to hand to President Reagan a check from KWVA for more than ten thousand dollars, which he will hand to the president of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board who will in turn hand the check to the president of the Battle Monuments Commission. YOU CAN HELP BY CONTRIBUTING, and if possible, attend the reunion ceremonies.
July 26 - Band concerts and variety shows on the Mall. We are trying to get this done; and to include a way to contribute donations to the memorial.
July 26 - We are hard at work on cooperating with movie star Loretta Swit and all associated with the recent documentary "The Forgotten War"—the plan includes display on the Mall of the movie sets of the TV series M*A*S*H and its new replacement in the Army medical elements.
July 27 - Our ceremony at Arlington. Come if you can.
July 27 - Probably several embassy receptions for vets.
July 27 - Our main banquet at hotel. Gen. Stilwell has been asked to be the key speaker.
Balance of week - Embassy open houses, all nations in United Nations command; church services to include recognition and remembrance moments; televised church ceremony at National Cathedral; various television and other news media recognition.
YOU CAN HELP - on July 27, 1953 (cease-fire date) a lot of American newspapers ran the news on their front page. Will you ask your local newspaper to re-run that page in a reproduction format… and to include at the bottom of the page a copy of the donation pledge for the memorial. You can copy the form we have here.
The May 1988 issue also encouraged members to help make placards for the sides of KWVA busses traveling about in Washington, DC during convention time; write to senators for support for the memorial; ask management at the members’ place of employment to establish a fund drive; talk to influential people in the community to help with a fund drive; ask local churches to ring bells on July 27 to recognize the cease-fire; contact/write/call media outlets such as "Sixty Minutes" or "20/20" regarding the Memorial; etc. The Graybeards issues from that time period also carried pledge cards that said, "Yes! I Want to Help Build the National Memorial to the Korean War Veterans, In Washington, D.C. I want to contribute: __ $500 __$250 __$100 __$50 – Other"
The previous (January-April 1988) issue of The Graybeards carried a two-page update about the progress of the Korean War Memorial by Col. William E. Weber of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board. Weber was liaison with the Korean War Veterans Groups Committee in Washington, D.C., and he was a member of the KWVA board of directors at the time.
When Stan Hadden became the official editor of The Graybeards in September of 1988, the appearance of The Graybeards was not as fancy as the first two or three editions before he was pressed into service as the "unofficial editor" in late 1985. On page one of Vol. 4, No. 1, September 1988, Hadden told KWVA members why. He sai, "Among random thoughts while working on my typewriter to publish The Graybeards it occurs to me that you should know that it looks this way because we can print and mail you this issue for around sixty cents. That compares to about three dollars that your other issues cost, EACH. So… it might not be as pretty, and my typewriter is a Model 1917 Underwood that cost me six bucks 20 years ago and I can’t afford an expensive word processor . . . but we will have that much more to add to the Memorial Fund. And that’s what KWVA is all about. If you disagree, please write Editor."
Stan’s first issue also announced the news that the KWVA did, indeed, succeed in raising enough money to give $10,000 to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Fund on July 27, 1988 at the organization’s Arlington Memorial Ceremony. "Slightly more than that amount came from the 1987 ticket sales; the balance was deposited in the account with results from the 1988 ticket sales," he said. Then less than two months later, the KWVA gave yet another $10,000 to the Memorial Fund. "At their own expense," Hadden said, "several members and officers of KWVA attended the ceremony [on the 5-acre site that had been designated for the Korean War Memorial], including: Dick Adams, President; Tom Maines, 1st Vice President; Kenneth Borchardt, judge advocate; Stan Hadden, editor and immediate past 2nd Vice President; Blaine Friedlander; Al Rudy, and others. A check for $10,000 was presented to General Stilwell of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board, who in turn gave the check to Col. Ryan of ABMC. A 15-minute video tape news story was made of the proceedings; its release is aimed at 700 television stations nation-wide. You will be proud to know that this $10,000 is from a portion of funds realized from sale of prize tickets which ended with the drawing of names at our July reunion. That’s your hard work and it is starting to show some real results." Page ten of the same issue goes into great detail about an ambitious method of fundraising for the Memorial, proposed by a Fund Raising Foundation that was established between KWVA and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board (KWVMAB). This was the plan:
Operation Butt Buster:
We will now form into teams in the following areas: 1. Sales Team 2. Communications Team 3. Legislative Team
The Sales Team
We need volunteers for the staff as follows:
10 regional coordinators
The Communications Team
We need to contact all of the newspapers (weekly and/or daily), and all the radio stations, and all the television stations, in your home town. Will you please list the name and address of each paper and station. Would you be willing to act as our point of contact for each, or all, of them?
The Legislative Team
a. Would you be willing to contact: one of your United States Senators; or your United States Representative; or your governor?
The Fundraising Plan
We have made arrangements to sell a book of manufacturers’ rebate and discount coupons for sports, leisure and recreational goods. The book will sell for $25.00 and it will contain about 200 pages of coupons of total value of over $1,400 worth of savings to the purchaser.
From the $35.00 [sic] we will make $10 per book for the Memorial. We will pay $8.50 for the book, and will
retain $1.50 to cover necessary costs (any funds not needed to cover costs will be donated to the Memorial). This
Negotiations are underway with banks to handle the funds on a lock-box basis to insure the accountability of all funds. Normally, a fund-raising effort of this size requires that the fundraiser receive 80-90% leaving only 10% for the charitable purpose. The Viet Nam Memorial fund raisers were ab le to cut the fund raiser’s take to 66% according to what we were told. We will need less than 10% to cover costs and expenses.
We will start the effort on October 15, 1988, with the pre-sale of the books by selling gift certificates. We plan to sell 150,000 gift certificates by December 1, and the remainder of the 200,000 by July 5, 1989. It may sound difficult , but we can make our goal by selling only one book to every 1,700 citizens. If everybody gets to work, we can do it easily.
Present plans are to have all the paperwork ready and in your hands by October 1, 1988. For the want of a better name we are tentatively naming this OPERATION BUTT BUSTER."
As efforts to raise money for the national Korean War Memorial were getting off the ground, so was the fledgling Korean War Veterans Association. The KWVA was, in fact, so young that it had very little funds in its treasury. Friedlander said that he remembered a time in 1988 when the local KWVA members wanted to stage a fundraiser for the Memorial. "We arranged to get a loan from a VFW Post in Fairfax, Virginia," he said. "We got a band and Senators Warner, Chaffee, and Glenn were the guest speakers. The purpose of the program that day was to let people know there was going to be Korean War Memorial."
The text of her letter follows:
After Kathleen’s letter was printed in Dear Abby on Veterans’ Day 1988, the American Battle Monuments Commission received more than 27,000 donations totaling over $200,000. A follow-up message in Dear Abby on January 3, 1989 netted even more donations, until the amount far surpassed $300,000. According to Blaine Friedlander, Abby’s escort to a presidential reception in the Rose Garden of the White House in 1989, the response to the Dear Abby letter was heartwarming. "One little girl sent in $1.00," he said. "A Sunday School class donated $5.00. A grade school class sent $2.00." In August of 1989, Dear Abby’s third request for donations was printed. The Graybeards (September 1989, page 3) indicated, "We don’t know the exact amount of monies given as a result of Dear Abby’s help. It easily exceeds $400,000."
Kathleen said, "My phone rang off the hook for weeks. Letters filled my mailbox from vets thanking me for bringing the forgotten war to national attention. All money went directly to D.C. The rest is history. An "ordinary" housewife traveled all over giving speeches to raise funds. Then we received a blow from D.C. by a certain date, soon, as I recall, we had to come up with 6 million or no memorial!! Someone (I don't remember who) suggested a coin. First we had to lobby Congress. This being the time our annual D.C. KWVA reunion was being held, our vets flooded their reps to sign the bill, under threat of marching to the hill. The last one to hold out was MY rep Cranston. I set up a massive phone campaign with California vets. Hundreds in California each would call Cranston and ask any/all buddies to do the same. Cranston caved in, but much credit goes to the late General Stilwell of the D.C. official memorial committee. Our KWVA contributed the most money except the Foreign Legion Vets Association. They had thousands of members, paid staff, etc."
After her first husband was killed in Korea, Kathleen joined the United States Air Force nurse corps to honor his memory. She remarried in 1953 to a US Air Force dentist. The couple has been married over 50 years and has four children and four grandchildren. Kathleen was "famous" temporarily after her Dear Abby letter, but she told the KWE that, "Everything I did was for my precious combat vets, thousands of whom have confided in me their continued pain, body and spirit. They are the brothers I never had and I will never forget them!!" She is proud that she was one of the many persons who had an impact on the fund-raising efforts to secure the money needed for the national Korean War Memorial.
Like Kathleen, Blaine Friedlander told the Korean War Educator that the raising of the funds needed for the Korean War Memorial was by no means a "one person job." He said it took teamwork. As of December 20, 1988, the American Battle Monuments Commission reported: "Total monies on hand for Memorial funding - $2,725,371.81. We normally refer to this amount as ‘just over $2.7 million—contributed by 23,679 donors."
The KWVA raffled commemorative M-1 rifles to raise money for the Memorial fund. General donations were also sent to the KWVA office in Baltimore from KWVA members throughout the USA for forwarding on to the Battle Monuments Commission in Washington, D.C. The January 1989 issue of The Graybeards (page 3) carried a list of people who had sent donations to Baltimore as of December 31, 1988. More lists appeared in subsequent issues, including a fairly large list of donors in the September 1989 issue. The KWVA also devised a way to generate funds for the Memorial through an association credit card with the KWVA logo on it.
News of the Memorial design competition was announced in Graybeards, telling members where to obtain application forms from the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board. (By April of 1989, the Commission had received over 1,000 applications for designs.) The 1989 issues of Graybeards also encouraged KWVA members to come to Washington DC on July 27, 1989 to see the Memorial site. KWVA members sent letters to the editor of Time-Life and other magazines, as well as radio and television stations, to encourage their readers and viewers not to forget the "Forgotten War". A commemorative coin was authorized, due in part to the hard work of the many KWVA members who called and wrote to their congressmen requesting they co-sponsor the bill to make it happen. The Graybeards pointed out that the DAV contributed $500,000 to the Korean War Memorial Fund. "Have you asked your special group to also help?", Editor Hadden asked. "Why don’t you and I and him and her just reach into our pocket NOW and send a few extra bucks to the Memorial Fund."
In August of 1990, KWVA President Dick Adams received a letter of appreciation from Gen. R.G. Stilwell (Ret), Chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board (KWVMAB). Stilwell thanked the members of the KWVA for helping to push the bill to mint a silver dollar commemorative coin for the 38th anniversary of the ending of the Korean War—proceeds to go to the Memorial Fund. The coin campaign was known as "Operation Over the Top." Stilwell’s letter read, in part: "The Korean War Veterans Association merits highest praise for the role its members played in achieving such wide spread support in both Chambers of the Congress and in such a short span of time. To be sure, it was a team effort, involving the personal leadership of Senator Armstrong and Representative Parris, the harnessing of the legislative infrastructure of the major veterans organizations and concentrated individual lobbying. But, in my evaluation, your Association’s efforts were the best organized, the most persistently pursued and the most productive. The number of calls made, letters written and Congressional offices visited would have been impressive for an organization ten times your size. For all that, you have this Old Soldier’s grateful salute and heartfelt commendation in which my Board colleagues enthusiastically join. I am proud to be in your ranks!" Sales of the coins, which sold for $31.00 each, raised $8 million for the Korean War Memorial fund.
Unfortunately, as delays occurred in Washington and cost estimates for the construction of the memorial mounted, dissatisfaction with the planning commission began to develop within the membership of the Korean War Veterans Association. They called for fiscal responsibility and accountability with regards to the Korean War Memorial project. In the January 1990 issue of The Graybeards, the sudden jump in the projected cost of the memorial was questioned. "Who is writing/administering the contract?" was another question. "Are cost-control methods being used or is the usual boon-doggling being followed?" The KWVA leaders asked the membership their opinions on the memorial design and the project in general, and their responses were published. The January 1991 issue of The Graybeards ran extensive details about financial and design problems with the memorial. In the following issues, more and more questions were asked about these same problems.
A March 1991 special "flashletter" to the KWVA membership was especially accusatory about the perceived problems with the memorial planning and implementation. That issue was not received well by the KWVMAB, and as a result, Col. William E. Weber and Gen. R.G. Stilwell resigned their memberships in the KWVA. Weber and Stilwell were members of the KWVMAB. Other members of the KWVA, however, stayed true to the KWVA. One member wrote in response to the Flashletter that, "The problem evolving around the Korean War this time is not apathy; it has to do with bureaucratic in-fighting and bungling…" (The Graybeards, June 1991, page 5). The KWVA’s stance that its members—who had raised millions of dollars to date for the Memorial—had the right to give input into the project and to receive honest answers about its progress or lack thereof. Undoubtedly, the KWVA stepped on a few influential toes in Washington, DC as it kept its vigilant watch over the project coordinators. When the ceremonial ground-breaking for the memorial was held on June 14, 1992, the KWVA was given only a small part in the ground-breaking arrangements. Still, the KWVA members continued to stand their ground and monitor all aspects of the national Korean War Memorial.
One of the biggest controversies associated with the memorial was the fact that the names of the Korean War Killed in Action and Missing in Action were not inscribed on a wall that Korean War veterans wanted as part of the design concept. The already-constructed Vietnam Memorial carried such a wall of remembrance, and Korean War veterans wanted a similar sacred area for its fallen heroes. Dick Wysocke of Stickney, Illinois lost his childhood buddy in the Korean War. He wrote to the Graybeards (January 1993), "Just a Memorial standing there does not let the American people know how many lives are gone and forgotten by the people who put us in the damn war. America has got to be told, very loud." Other letters from opinionated KWVA members began to flood the desk of Stan Hadden, The Graybeards editor. "Graybeards is caught in the middle of a debate that official Washington would like to ignore," Hadden said in the April 1992 issue. "We are simply trying to publish ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION for each member to decide as he/she wants and to then act accordingly." Despite letters of protest to the KWVA, to the news media, to the National Capitol Planning Commission, to the KWVMAB, and to members of the legislature, no such wall was ever incorporated. A kiosk with the names of the Korean War fallen was added to the design in lieu of a memorial wall.
Yet another controversy surrounding the Korean War Memorial surfaced in 1993. Unlike other national monuments on the Mall in Washington, D.C., all paid with public money, the Korean War Memorial was copyrighted. Korean War veterans and members of the general public were outraged that private entities could profit from copyright royalty rights on the Korean War Memorial. According to the September 1993 issue of The Graybeards, the American Battle Monuments Commission divided copyright royalties for the Korean War Memorial in this manner: 25% to the architect; 50% to the sculptor and muralist; and 25% for the government. The copyrights contract was signed on August 11, 1993. When this information was made public knowledge, there was another storm of protest from KWVA members and others. An article in the October 24, 1993, Atlanta Journal, entitled "Washington in Brief," stated that, "Veterans are besieging Congress and the White House with letters of protest." The American Battle Monuments Commission told Congresswoman Susan Molinari that "any non-profit veterans organization would still be able to purchase and sell images of the Korean War Memorial by paying the same type of discounted fees to reproduce any battle memorial item. In addition, there is already an agreement that the public will be authorized to photograph the Memorial for its own private use." [See page 11, August 1993 Graybeards.]
In spite of the controversies, the Korean War Memorial was finally dedicated on July 27, 1995. According to Ray Donnelly, one of the forces behind the team effort to see the Korean War Memorial to fruition, the unique memorial was also uniquely dedicated to four groups of Korean War veterans: those alive; those dead; those who were prisoners of war; and those who were missing in action.
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