Veteran works for Korean War memorial for state cemetery
March 22, 2013
A local man seeks donations to make a Korean War memorial for the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter.
Ron Langel, a Vietnam veteran, along with the American Legion Emil Ewoldt Post 22 of Dedham, are trying to honor veterans who they say haven't received a lot of thanks in the past.
"Korea has been called the 'Forgotten War,' and these veterans have not been properly thanked for their service," Langel said. "We have lost too many by their passing already. This is one small way of showing some appreciation to those who are still with us."
He said that for nearly 60 years the veterans of the Korean War have gone unnoticed. The war played out in the early 1950s, with the United States military supporting South Korea and communist China supporting the north.
Langel said part the lack of recognition is because Congress never officially declared U.S. military action in Korea a war. He said that doesn't mean soldiers served their country any less.
Jodi Tymeson, executive director of the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, said that the cemetery has policies on memorials in order to maintain consistency in appearance of the cemetery.
"We certainly welcome the donated monuments from the organizations," Tymeson said.
The Iowa Veterans Cemetery - with its expansive granite wall that faces Interstate Highway 80 near Van Meter - launched in 2006. It sits on a bluff that overlooks the surrounding area. Major construction on the cemetery began in 2007, and it was dedicated in July 2008. The first burial of a fallen soldier's remains was July 7 of that year. Various organizations have combined their efforts to build memorials for each war since.
Tymeson said two other memorials planned for dedication are from the VFW Department of Iowa and the Navy Construction Battalion.
Langel is working with Boyce Monument of Carroll to design and create the Korean War memorial. The design is still under consideration. It's expected to about $10,000.
Langel encourages anyone who wishes to donate to the cause to send their name and address to the American Legion Emil Ewoldt Post 22 at 806 Park Ave., Manning, Iowa 51455.
The memorial stone will be made out of granite and cost $6,785.
There will also be a 12-inch bronze plaque at the top of the stone, which, depending on the design, will cost either $400 or $700,
Five smaller bronze plaques will be placed at the bottom of the stone recognizing each of the five branches of the military. Those are expected to run between $960 and $1,440 for all five.
An unveiling ceremony is expected to be held at the Veterans Cemetery on July 27 - which will be the 60-year anniversary of the signing of the Korean armistice - and will be the revealing of the Korean memorial.
There will be a program honoring all Korean War veterans from Iowa.
Langel is working to contact as many Korean War veterans as possible in the western half of the state to attend the program, and Sid Morris of Cedar Falls is attempting to organize the eastern part of the state.
Morris is also working to set up a Korean War Veterans Association in Des Moines.
Langel said it's difficult to track down veterans who served in Korea because they are not members of the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The association will be called the Taylor Morris Chapter 322, named after Morris's grandson who lost his arms and legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2012.
Langel said it's unfortunate that Korean War veterans haven't really been thanked. He said he believes that with the current tensions with North Korea, Americans will begin to realize what the soldiers were fighting for 60 years ago.
Questions regarding the memorial or the Korean War Veterans Association can be directed to Langel at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (712) 830-1683.
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