Seven veterans or soldiers, four Korean Americans and two civilians affected by the Korean War, all profiled in a new exhibit and book about the war, have been honored at its official launch event in the Capitol.
The colorful and informative exhibit in the Office of Secretary of State’s front lobby is called “Korea 65: The Forgotten War Remembered.”
Created by our office’s Legacy Washington team, it explores stories about Washingtonians who experienced the war (1950-53) in different ways, including U.S. soldiers who fought in the war, a nurse who worked in a MASH unit, Korean Americans who grew up in Korea during or after the war, and others.
Eleven of the exhibit’s 13 profile subjects attended the Thursday launch event, including George Drake, Jim Evans, Richard Frailey, Dan Keenan, Moonbeam Kupka, Pat Martin, Barbara Nichols, Nam Pyo Park, state Rep. Cindy Ryu, Sotero Soto and Patsy Surh O’Connell.
Deputy Secretary of State Greg Lane emceed the event, held in the State Reception Room at the Capitol. Lane filled in for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who was unable to attend due to an unexpected death in her family.
“Today is a day for remembering our history and respecting its lessons,” Lane told the gathering. “It is a day to gather and honor the sacrifices made by so many. And it is a day to celebrate the enduring close relationship between our two countries – the United States and the Republic of Korea.
“The people featured in the exhibit opening today volunteered to relive a painful history, and courageously share their stories in great detail so that their experiences can be passed on, especially to young people,” Lane added.
Lane told the gathering that the Korean War and its aftermath impacted the Pacific Northwest in many ways, including military installations, defense industries, Pacific Rim commerce, immigration and culture. Lane also noted that Washington is now home to 100,000 people of Korean ancestry.
“Yet, despite its impact, our intervention in Korea came to be called ‘The Forgotten War.’ And sadly, the conflict remains a little-known chapter in our nation’s history. This is precisely why this latest endeavor of Legacy Washington, and our presence here, are so important,” Lane said.
The exhibit launch attracted two dignitaries from the Republic of Korea (also known as South Korea) who spoke at the event, Kwang Woo Kim, Director General of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, and Kyongsig Park, Deputy Consul General. Other speakers included Ryu, Keenan and Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos.
Before the program began, dancers from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center performed in the Rotunda.
The Korea 65 exhibit and profile series is the latest project of Legacy Washington, a historical program within the Office of Secretary of State that tells the stories of Washington’s unique history through books and exhibits. Korea 65 is the eighth project produced by Legacy Washington. All of the projects have been privately funded.
In addition to the exhibit, the Korea 65 project includes:
- an online version in English that will soon be presented in Korean;
- a powerful new book with in-depth stories and historic photographs (copies can be purchased at the OSOS front desk in the Capitol or online;
- a contest, ending Nov. 30, that allows 6th-12th-grade Washington students to artistically explore how the war impacts Washington today;
- and, for the first time, an interactive curriculum that encourages young people to think critically about the war.
The Korea 65 exhibit will be displayed until July 2018. For more information about it, contact Legacy Washington’s Laura Mott at 360-902-4171 or [email protected].