IVINS — At the Southern Utah Veterans Home Thursday, Ivins City and City of St. George mayors Chris Hart and Jon Pike presented a proclamation declaring Oct. 16 as Korean Veterans Day and more than 100 Korean War veterans from Utah received an Ambassador of Freedom Medal from the Republic of Korea as a thank you for their service to the country.
Between 1950-1953, South Korea received help from 16 different countries, including the United States, in its defense against North Korea. At peak strength, the U.S. had 348,000 troops committed to Korea’s aid.
Members of the Republic of Korea, including Consul General Dongman Han, were present to recognize veterans in the St. George area.
“You look at these folks that have come here from halfway around the world to be a part of this and to recognize citizens in our state who have sacrificed much to help them through the conflict,” Hart said.
The Korean War was a terrible thing to see and deal with, he said, as it was the time his father served in the military.
“It is a remarkable thing in which (South Koreans) have recovered,” Hart said. “You look at the comparison between North and South Korea and the differences in prosperity and so forth certainly is an affirmation of the type of government that we have in common and the liberties that we share.”
The presence of a care facility and volunteers in Ivins was something Pike said is a great honor to have and a way to show veterans they are cared about and appreciated.
This year marks the second anniversary of the United States-Korea free trade agreement, entered into March 12, 2012. It was an agreement whereby the two countries support a strong, mutual advantageousness relationship with the Republic of Korea, Pike said. Presenting the proclamation to the Consul General, he said:
We, therefore, Chris Hart, mayor of Ivins City, and Jonathan T. Pike, mayor of the City of St. George Utah, do hearby proclaim today, October 16, 2014 as Korean War Veterans Day and encourage all public officials, educators, civic groups, and all of our citizens this day to honor those who served in the Korean War and present this proclamation as well as Mayor Hart to you.
Han shared his gratitude for the Korean War Veterans’ service.
“This will be forever in history,” Han said. “It will bring the future generations hope to continue to promote and support in this country and in Korea.”
Members of the Republic of Korea said thank you as they placed medals around veterans necks.
Col. Lloyd Laycook, 84, joined the military in 1950, serving in Germany, Vietnam and Korea. He said it was an honor to receive the medal from the Republic of Korea.
“It’s wonderful,” Laycook said. “I served 25 years. It’s wonderful to be part of freedoms, particularly, when you’ve helped another nation. I was a part of that in Korea and many other countries and it was truly an honor to be here.”
As he flew with many pilots in different countries during the service, Laycook said, he knew they were all putting their lives on the line for freedoms and liberty that the country now enjoys.
“We do anything we can to protect our freedoms and also help to provide those very, very wonderful benefits, that are God-given to any of the countries,” he said. “We even sacrifice for it.”
The first veteran to receive his medal during the ceremony was Edward Barberis and he was invited to speak on behalf of the other veterans.
“Do you remember the first time someone said to you, thank you for your service?” he said. “I do.”
Barberis shared the experience of a woman who, years ago, gave him a free haircut in appreciation for service he gave to her homeland of Seoul, Korea.
“She stood in front of me and said ‘thank you for your service to my country,’” he said. “It really hit what I was doing there.”
Barberis shared his appreciation to the members of the Republic of Korea for the medal he and all the veterans received.
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