Though Veterans Day has passed, we would like to still pay tribute to those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.

In Wilsonville there is a powerful reminder of those Oregonians who served during the Korean War, and 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. On Monday, a ceremony took place at the memorial and included the appearance of South Korean Consul General Young Wan Song, an ambassador for peace. He presented certificates and medals to about 30 local Korean War veterans to say thank you from the Korean government for their participation in the Korean War.

The Korean War Veterans Association memorial was installed Sept. 30, 2000, and lists the names of 287 Oregon servicemen killed during the Korean War. That number may seem small to some, but it is part of a much larger number.

The Korean War was fought between 1950 and 1953. To aid South Korea, the U.S. alone provided 88 percent of the 341,000 international soldiers, with 20 other countries of the United Nations offering assistance. Worldwide, there were 5.7 million total service members during the Korean War, with 33,739 battle deaths, 2,835 other deaths (in theater), 17,672 other deaths in service and 103,284 non-mortal woundings. Today, there is an estimated 2.3 million living veterans worldwide from the Korean War.

The 94-foot long granite Wall of Honor in Wilsonville, along with the flying flags of the United States, Republic of Korea, United Nations and the state of Oregon, serve as a reminder of the brave many who chose to defend South Korea and its people. South Korea’s following generations have continued to display deep gratitude. We should do the same.

As they return from service, veterans are challenged to reintegrate into American life. It is our duty to support them and aid them in any way possible. Today, there are more avenues than ever before for veterans and their families to receive the mental, physical and emotional support they may need. However, that is not enough. We need to make the transition for veterans as smooth as possible. They should not have to seek assistance. We should be offering it.

We urge politicians — local, statewide and federal — to make serving veterans a priority. There are millions of veterans living in the nation right now and millions more are in the making. As long as there is conflict, there will be war and those willing to defend us. Let’s honor them and take care of them.

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