Federal bill recognizes this as the Year of the Korean War Veteran

The U.S. government would like to honor Korean War veterans, but they must find them first – and quickly.

All Korean War veterans are entitled to a certificate through the U.S. Department of Defense, honoring and thanking them for their service. The application is available online, due to Senate Bill 602, which designates 2012-13 the Year of the Korean War Veteran.

The Department of Defense wants to deliver the certificates to living veterans and to family members of veterans who have passed away.

However, most Korean War veterans are not computer-savvy, said Neil McCain, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association in Oregon. And they’re aging, with the average age about 80 years old.

McCain also said that even though he has a national membership of 17,000, only about 2,000 of them have an email address.

He’s hoping to reach as many Korean War veterans as possible through other means, including newspaper, television and radio. He’s leaving applications at media outlets, grocery stores and libraries.

Remembering the Korean War has special significance in Wilsonville because of a memorial wall located in Wilsonville’s Town Center Park. The memorial was built in 2000 and now is cared for by the city of Wilsonville, partly because the aging veterans no longer felt they could do it themselves.

At the time, City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said officially transferring ownership was more about paperwork, as the city has been maintaining the memorial for quite some time.

Now, the city is looking to possibly expand its outreach by including the visitor’s information center in its efforts to remember Korean War veterans.

When the city formed the new agreement with the Oregon Trail chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, it sought to increase commemoration and education of the public about the Korean War, develop social welfare programs to assist and support Korean War veterans and their families, and develop and promote public educational outreach efforts about the war in schools and other venues.

The city promised the Korean War veterans they would continue to take good care of the memorial wall, which is located in the northeast corner of the park. Korean War veterans typically host commemoration ceremonies at the wall, remembering the start of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, as well as the cease-fire agreement signed July 27, 1953.

According to the resolution passed in the U.S. Senate, nearly 1.8 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces served along with the forces of the Republic of Korea and 20 other Allied nations “in the Korean theater of operations to defend freedom and democracy in the Korean Peninsula.”

It states that during the Korean War, 36,574 people from the United States died and 103,284 people from the United States were wounded “in some of the most horrific combat and weather conditions in the history of warfare.”

Ceremonies were held in Wilsonville to remember both the 60th and 62nd commencements of the Korean War.

Don M. Cohen, a key figure in getting the memorial wall in Wilsonville constructed, said there are fewer and fewer veterans remaining to carry on the traditions and uphold the memories, which is why he proposed completely handing over the maintenance of the wall to the city.

Now, with the specially designated year for Korean War veterans, it’s important to give them the recognition they’re due, McCain said.

Veterans or their family members can apply for the certificate by visiting

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