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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Veterans raising funds for Korean War Memorial

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Whitener Monuments Inc. out of Kennett, Mo. provided this artist rendition of what the monument will look like.
The Korean War remains one of the most forgotten wars in our nation's history. Our very own Dyer County Courthouse includes memorials recognizing the sacrifices of service members in World War II and Vietnam but there is no monument to honor the sacrifice of the 11 Dyer County residents that paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War. Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill is hoping to change that as it was recently brought to his attention that the courthouse lawn should include a memorial to honor the Korean War veterans.

"These veterans deserve a monument to call their own," said Hill during the commissioners meeting in November.

Hill enlisted the help of Whitener Monuments Inc. in Kennett, Mo., who created the design for the other memorials on the square, to create an artist rendering (pictured) of what the monument would look like. The monument contains a collage of images from the war at the very top. Below the collage is the following quote:

"They told us, 'We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.' So we fought in the mountains of Heartbreak Ridge and waded ashore at Inchon.

We froze in the winter and baked in the summer sun.

Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill looks out to the spot on the northeast side of the courthouse square where the Korean Memorial will be placed.
At times, we were greatly outnumbered, but we still fought on and many of us gave our lives for Freedom ... for Justice ... and for Peace."

The monument will also include the names of the 11 Dyer County residents that died while serving in the Korean War: Elmo F. Grace, Richard L. Heard, Kenneth E. Martin, James F. McGarity, Billie G. Melton, Rice M. Nichols, Harold G. Sellers, Eddie L. Shelton, Ralph R. Thurmond, Connie L. Tibbs and Joe Frank Wood. Estimates are that it will cost approximately $8,700 to complete the monument. An account has been set up at First Citizens National Bank to receive donations for the costs associated with the memorial.

"We've been able to do all the monuments on the square without any county money, only using donations," said Hill, who is a Korean War veteran himself. "We would like to do the same for this one."

The setting for the Korean War was laid out at the end of World War II when the Allied victors, including the United States and the Soviet Union, agreed to divide the Republic of Korea along the 38th parallel, with the U.S. occupying the southern half and the Soviet military occupying the northern half. In a similar situation faced by Germany, the U.S.-controlled area emerged as a democratic nation while the Soviet-controlled area emerged as a communist nation. The 38th parallel became the site of increased conflicts and cross-border skirmishes until North Korean forces invaded Southern Korea in June 1950.

The United States would provide nearly 90 percent of the international fighting force in support of South Korea. After three years of fighting nearly 40,000 Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice, a number adjusted downward in recent years by the Department of Defense from the original tally of 54,000. Hill and other area veterans agree that it is time for the Korean War veterans to get the recognition they deserve.

"It would mean a whole lot to the Korean veterans to get a memorial because all the other wars have memorials," said Doug Shepherd of the Disabled American Veterans, who serves as Tennessee Commander for the DAV. "The Korean veterans are getting up in age and they are not gong to be with us much longer. It would be good to get the memorial in place before they are no longer with us."

According to Hill, about $3,700 has been raised so far in the short month that the donation account has been opened at First Citizens. He hopes that the rest can be raised in a short amount of time to get the monument up as soon as possible.

"We have a spot selected, we have the design, all we need now is the money to do it," said Hill.

Interested parties can make a donation at any First Citizens National Bank in Dyersburg by asking for the Korean War Monument Fund. For more information on the memorial please contact the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion or the DAV offices. Inquiries can also be directed to Hill at (731) 286-7800.

Information for this article was obtained through www.nationalarchives.gov.

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