By Rylee McOuat
It was an afternoon of pride and gratitude this August 25th at Perkins Restaurant. Korean War veterans lined the tables, side by side in comradery once again as they enjoyed a luncheon filled with heartfelt thanks and remembrance for the brave Canadian soldiers that helped fight for a liberated and communist-free South Korea.
The fifth annual luncheon was put together by The Korea Times 매니토바 한인신문 / The Diversity Times publisher and editor Olivia Do and publisher Wonjae Song, respectively, along with multiple volunteers. This year’s turn out exceeded expectations and was a great success with lovely speeches, delicious food courtesy of Perkins, and even traditional Korean dancing entertainment (Sunhee Cho Dance Company).
The Korean War took place from 1950-1953 and is often referred to as “the forgotten war” as much of its media coverage was heavily censored from the public in countries such as the United States. The Korean War also came shortly after World War ll which ended in 1945 and just before the beginning of the Vietnam War in 1955. About 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War, with 516 soldiers being killed during their service.
The managing editor of the Times Do read the attendees a letter that had been written by the Korean consul General Mr. Tae-in Chung. The Consul General said in the letter that “Because of [the veterans], Korea has emerged as a vibrant democracy, with one of the most dynamic economies in the world. The people of Korea remain deeply grateful to the brave service and sacrifices of Canadian Veterans of the Korean War, and to their enduring contributions to the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy today.”
Some of the veterans were joined by their spouses and other family members, with one veteran’s wife commenting that she’d never felt prouder of being her husband’s wife than at appreciation events such as the luncheon.
Many of the vets that attended the luncheon expressed their own gratitude for continued acknowledgment of their service, with one vet saying that he “appreciates the time and energy that everyone puts into these luncheons, they really do mean something to all of us.” A few of those that unfortunately couldn’t attend due to illness or death were still present in a way, with a family member attending in their place.
As more and more Korean Vets are being taken each year due to illness or death, events such as these luncheons become more pivotal in maintaining the pride and honour veterans have earned during their service. As one veteran eloquently said, “I can’t begin to express the sense of genuinity and appreciation that this gives myself and the other men. The bond between us and the Korean community is ever-growing because of things like this (luncheon).”