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Reflecting deeply at the groundbreaking ceremony, for the new everlasting Korean War Memorial, I couldn’t help but flash forward and think of the wonderful opportunity this memorial presents to our veterans in the county.
My reflections also included and centered around those I knew who were in Korea in the late 1940s and again those that were there in the war from 1950-1953. My father, Vernon McDonald, was in Korea.
Part of my reflection looked into the future, and viewed wonderful futuristic ceremonies for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Hispanic History Month. What an excellent opportunity to help add additional educational historic stories about our veterans.
While I am trying to pay attention to the ceremony, that’s being conducted in front of me, my mind wandered with pride as I thought of the historic US Army Buffalo Soldier 24th and 25th Infantries and the US Army 65th Infantry Puerto Rican Borinqueneers. These were segregated units. Also remembering the strong, brave and dedicated women nurses, who also made the ultimate sacrifice.
There are so many outstanding stories that have been told and haven’t been told that this memorial will bring to life.
Joe Pak, a dedicated and determined patriot, had a dream to build a Korean War Memorial to honor and list all of the brave men who died during the Korean War.
The memorial, which was organized by the Orange County Korean War Memorial Committee, will be the first Korean War Memorial in the United States to commemorate all 36,492 United States Service members who died during the war. Of these losses, 2,611 were from California. Joe and I had many discussions about his vision and I am very proud, to have been in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.
He had quite a turnout of dignitaries. Council General Park Kyung-Jae and many mainstream politicians, Fullerton Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald (her grandfather was a Korean War veteran), Mayor Pro-Tem Jan Flory, and Councilmember Ahmad Zahra, (Bruce Whitaker and Pete Silva were unable to attend); Congressman Gil Cisneros; Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva; Supervisor Doug Chaffee; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, commander of both the California Army National Guard and the 40th Infantry Division (She is the first woman commander of the 40th Infantry Division) and over 150 special veterans and guests were in attendance. (Veteran Service Organizations: American Legion, VFW, DAV, AUSA, Vietnam Veterans, NABVETS, OCVAC, OCVMFC, Korean War Veterans, Heroes Hall)
This vibrant memorial will breathe a positive collaboration of life to our community, our state and our nation. It will also be a wonderful compliment to the Orange County Fair Heroes Hall Museum where there is a virtual “Through the Eyes of Veterans” feature that honors veterans from all of the nation’s wars.
As a United States Navy, Vietnam Veteran, I happen to have learned a little semaphore flag language. Bravo Zulu is a naval signal which simply means “WELL DONE”. Bravo Zulu Joe Pak.
Bobby McDonald, Proud American Veteran
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