In a community where rumors run rampant, what is the best-kept secret? The Korean War Memorial in Riverview Park at the end of East Fifth Street. Be proud; Nevada’s first Korean War Memorial is in Carson City. Clark County, with at least 70 percent of our state’s population, does not have a Korean War memorial.
If you drive east on East Fifth Street past the closed Nevada State Prison, over the freeway, past the sewage-treatment plant, through the roundabout, past the entrance to Eagle Valley Middle School to the absolute end of East Fifth Street, you are in front of the memorial honoring Korean War Veterans. It was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, to honor 33,686 American battle deaths including 34 Nevadans, 2,830 American non-battle deaths and 8,176 Americans missing in action. This was a war, not a police action.
One of the plaques from the second dedication, on May 25, 2009, tells the memorial’s story in three paragraphs.
“This memorial was the first in the State of Nevada dedicated to the memory of the U.S. effort to repeal the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North Korea and the People’s Republic of China from June 1950 to July 1953.
“Planning for construction of the Memorial was begun in 2004 by a group of local U.S. Military Veterans of the Korean War. The site was acquired through the Carson City Parks and Recreation Department. Actual construction began in early 2005 with much of the labor and materials supplied by local companies and chapter members of the Korean War Veterans Association. Considerable financial support was provided by local residents and the Korean American Association of Reno, Nevada.
“The personalized paving bricks in the walkways pay tribute to those who were involved in the Korean War. The focal point is a replica of a typical Korean House of that era called a ‘Hanok.’ This 4,600 lb. model on the pedestal was quarried and carved in South Korea, then shipped to the present site. The original pedestal displays a bronze plaque honoring those Nevadans who made the ultimate sacrifice to this cause. A second bronze plaque describes the final ‘Nevada Cites Complex’ campaign that marked the end of hostilities. The Eagle atop the original pedestal represents the spirit of the young men and women of that time and still persists to this day — that it was, and is, a privilege to have the opportunity to serve our country in pursuit of freedom. Korean War Veterans Association, Carson City Chapter #305, May 16, 2009”
Unfortunately, the Korean War veterans have something in common with Rodney Dangerfield: They often get no respect. You can help rectify this situation. Contact Korean War Veterans’ Association Chapter No. 305 President Bill Heinz at 775-883-9088 or email historian Harold Jones at email@example.com to perform volunteer tasks for Chapter No. 305; visit the memorial with a friend and sit in one of the two benches as you reflect and smell the Rose of Sharon; send letters to the editor thanking the members of KWVA Chapter No. 305 for their sacrifices and service; purchase a personalized brick for the memorial’s brick walk; or visit a veteran in an assisted-living facility once a week to mention a few suggestions.
There are two ways to learn about the history of your country. First, visit a memorial or historical place to visualize what actually happened. Second, read a couple of paragraphs in a middle school or high school history text. You decide.
Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.