RAVENSWOOD, W.Va.-(WTAP) UPDATE: 4/27/19
A traveling version of the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. brought hundreds to a ceremony Saturday morning in Ravenswood to honor and remember those who have served.
A formal ceremony was held in honor of those veterans to put a powerful perspective on the visiting monument.
Guest speakers included Brigadier General Christopher Walker, the commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard, and Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, retired marine lieutenant colonel.
Organizers believe that this kind of ceremony is one small way to honor those who served our country.
“Sometimes people call the Korean War the forgotten war, and I think it’s good to educate ourselves on our past. And that’s important for the younger generation, but we also need to honor the veterans who served this nation,” says Mayor Josh Miller of the City of Ravenswood.
“It was wedged in between World War II and Vietnam and sometimes they are forgotten, but we want to let them know that here in West Virginia, that’s not the case,” notes Sergeant Brian McCommon, sergeant first class West Virginia National Guard.
The memorial will close on Sunday night.
There is a wealth of information on nearly all the wars America has been involved in, including those before the media age.
One exception, according to those visiting a national traveling memorial, is the Korean War.
"About the only time I've been able to get information on it is when I accidentally bump into a Korea War vet," says military veteran Joe Burge, "and we talk veteran to veteran. I've learned more about it from them than I have from any book."
Even in weather closer to winter than to spring, a steady number of people, veterans and the general public, Friday visited a traveling memorial to the Korea War.
Andrew Blake works for the Veterans Center in Huntington, and is an Iraq War veteran. He says, in spite in the difference in years, he and Korea veterans have more similarities than differences.
"Different wars, different weapons and everything," says Blake, who works as a veterans outreach specialist, "but we do have the same similarities: leaving the families behind, and some of the experiences are the same; different time frame, and environments, but pretty close to the same."
With improving weather, a ceremony Saturday morning is expected to draw even more veterans to the memorial, before it closes Sunday night.
Joe Burge: "All wars, all veterans. They give us our rights. They deserve our respect."
Veterans of what's often been called "The Forgotten War" will be honored this weekend in Ravenswood.
Beginning Thursday, the Traveling Korean War Memorial will be on display at Washington's Riverfront Park, on route 68 near route 2.
While it doesn't have a wall, it is similar in concept to the Traveling Vietnam War Memorials that have visited Parkersburg in the past decade.
Local organizers of the event say this is more than just an opportunity to remember the conflict. And they've had interest in it from beyond Jackson County.
"This is a way for us to help, not just to remember, but to teach the young people, too, about the Korean War," says Brian McCommon, Chairman of Ravenswood's Parks and Recreation Board. "It may be an opportunity for some of these veterans to tell their stories."
"I've been telephoned from the veterans center in Marietta, Parkersburg-they're bringing vets down," notes Katrena Ramsey, the city's Parks and Recreation Superintendent. "They're coming from Tennessee: I have people coming from other counties who want to see this exhibit, and see if it's something they want to bring to their town."
The weekend's events begin Thursday, but the highlight is a ceremony at 11:00 Saturday morning, at which living Korean War veterans will be honored. McCommon notes most of them are now in their 80s.
Speakers will include dignitaries from the West Virginia National Guard and state Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.
Once it is set up, the memorial will be open 24 hours until it is closed on Sunday.