(BIVN) – The East Hawaiʻi community blessed the new Korean War Memorial, which was unveiled during a ceremony on Saturday morning in Hilo.
The new memorial, which honors 52 service members from Hawaiʻi Island who were killed during the Korean War, is located at the Wailoa River State Recreation Area next to the Vietnam War Memorial. Also listed on the monument are five non-combat casualties.
“What I did not know before coming to Hawaiʻi,” said Republic of Korea Consul General Choon-goo Kim, “was that the Aloha State suffered the highest per capita casualties of 456. In comparison to the overall population of the United States, Hawaiʻi had three times as many wounded and three and a half times the total number of casualties.”
Calling war, in general, “man’s greatest failure”, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim said the Korean War is very personal to him, “because my family lost a lot of people.”
“I remember of my mom sending her son – my oldest brother – to Korea,” Kim told the audience. “I’m proud to say he served well. Won a Medal of Valor for that war. I remember my mother asking us for our nightly prayers, when he was missing in action for quite a while. And also of tears flowing when word of family fatality was passed down to her.”
Today’s dedication event was held a few days shy of the 69th anniversary of the start of the war on June 25, 1950. The conflict lasted three years.
The event was sponsored by the Korean War Veterans Association Big Island Chapter No. 231.
“Today we gather to dedicate this memorial to the memory of those men who gave their lives during the Korean War,” said State Representative Richard Onishi. “Many call the Korean War ‘the Forgotten War’ but to the men and women of the Korean War Veterans Association Big Island Chapter No. 231, they never forgot. They took on the mission to ensure that no one will ever forget the Korean War and the sacrifices that these men from Hawaiʻi Island made.”
Rep. Onishi finished, “you have completed your mission with perseverance, dignity, and honor, and you have made us all proud for what you have accomplished.”