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A Busy Season at the Korean War Memorial, San Francisco

photo of crowd listening to speakers at the memorial
photo of crowd listening to speakers at the memorial

Photo by Anna Lopez, KWMF

The past three months have seen a number of commemorations and ceremonies at the Korean War Memorial in the Presidio of San Francisco. And the size of the crowds has been increasing significantly, due in part to the high visibility of the Korean crisis on the world stage. What follows are summaries and photographic highlights of these ceremonies, starting with the most recent in June, and working back in time to April.

June 25: Korean War Anniversary Commemoration at the Korean War Memorial

Thanks to Jody Stevens for her June 25 commemoration photos

photo of crowd, seated and listening

On June 25, KWMF held a ceremony at the Memorial to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. This date is a solemn occasion of momentous import to all Koreans and Korean-Americans. This was made evident by the strong turnout on this day by Korean-Americans who fought for the Republic of Korea during the war. These veterans are devoted supporters of all of KWMF’s activities.

Some of these Korean veterans showed up an hour and a half before the ceremony began.

Getting ready for a photo op at the wall

 

The ceremony included a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by Noah Griffin, Founder and Creative Director of the renowned Cole Porter Society; a performance of the Republic of Korea National Anthem by Joanne Cho, President of the Global Children’s Foundation; remarks by Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.), President and Chairman of KWMF; Consul General Park Joon-yong of the Republic of Korea; Eric Blind, Director of Heritage Programs at the Presidio Trust; and KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim.

Consul General Park Joon-yong

KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim

A welcome last-minute addition to the program was a performance of “Remember June 25” by Linda Park and her group of singers. This song is much beloved in South Korea, where it is traditionally sung at ceremonies throughout the country on this important date. The women’s spirited performance was a big hit with our audience.

Mr. Yoo and Mr. Crump lay the wreath

Linda Park and friends sing “Remember June 25”

Brothers in arms, commemorating that long ago, faraway war. Standing tall on the left, in the tan suit, is KWMF President and Chairman Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.).

KWMF Co-Founder John R. Stevens, LtCol, USMC (Ret.) being interviewed by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte

KWMF Secretary Arthur Curtis, LCDR, USCG (Ret.) enjoying the day

June 25: Korean War Veterans Appreciation Luncheon

Thanks to Jeny Kwak for her June 25 Luncheon photos

Following the morning ceremony, the Korean War veterans and their guests headed for the Golden Gate Grill in downtown San Francisco, where the restaurant’s owner, KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim, was hosting his 16th annual luncheon for all Korean War veterans and their families. More than 280 guests enjoyed fine food and wine as well as live entertainment by traditional Korean performers – all free of charge, thanks to gracious host Man J. Kim.

KWMF Co-Founder and Treasurer Donald F. Reid, Sgt, USMC with Jody and John Stevens

May 28: Memorial Day at the Korean War Memorial

Thanks to Art Curtis, Jeny Kwak, and Anna Lopez for their Memorial Day photos

photo of crowd listening to speakers in front of memorial

The following is a chronological summary in pictures of the Memorial Day commemoration.

KWMF Executive Director Gerard Parker welcomes the guests

1st Marine Division Association Chaplain William D. “Denny” Weisgerber, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret.) delivers the Benediction. He’s wearing his old dress blue uniform with all his medals, including the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart

Noah Griffin, Founder and Creative Director of the Cole Porter Society, sings the U.S. National Anthem

Joanne Cho, President of the Global Children’s Foundation, Sings the South Korean National Anthem

KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim speaks on behalf of KWMF

Consul General Park Joon-yong speaks on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Korea

Eric Blind, Ph.D., Director of Heritage Programs, speaks on behalf of the Presidio Trust

Beth Muszynski, Chief, Research & Program Review, Veterans Home Division, California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), presents Man J. Kim with a Proclamation from Governor Jerry Brown

Placing the wreath at the wall

The commemorative wreath, courtesy of KWMF Board member Wallace I. Levin, LtCol, CSMR (Ret.), Community Service Officer of VFW 91st Division/Chinatown Post 4618

CalVet’s Beth Muszynski with KWMF’s Don Reid and Denny Weisgerber

Michael Lamb, Historic Landscape Architect, the Presidio Trust, key member of the team that designed the Korean War Memorial. Behind him is the Golden Gate Bridge, and just beyond that, the Marin Headlands, which happen to lie on the 38th Parallel.

KWMF Board member Frank Mendez, U.S. Merchant Marine veteran of the Korean War

KWMF Executive Director Gerard Parker and Vice President Man J. Kim

May 27: Former ROTC Officers from the Republic of Korea Visit the Memorial

In late May, we at KWMF were pleasantly surprised to learn that we were to have an unexpected visit from members of an association of former Republic of Korea ROTC military officers. They were in San Francisco for their association’s annual reunion, coming together from South Korea as well as from local chapters of their ROTC association here in the United States. And on Sunday, May 27, they showed up at the Korean War Memorial for an informal tour: several busloads of them!

Some of the Korean ROTC officers pose for a group photo

They were welcomed by KWMF’s officers and other friends, who showed the guests around the memorial, exchanging pleasantries, getting to know one another, and posing for photos.

Two of the ROTC officers with KWMF Co-Founder and Director John Stevens

The wreath brought to the Memorial by the guests

Many of the guests didn’t speak much English. Fortunately, KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim served as unofficial translator and tour guide. He also made his debut as a standup comic, when he tried to persuade some of the guests that the photo of the Korean baby etched on the Memorial wall was none other than. . . Man J. Kim himself! He then admitted sheepishly that a DNA test might prove him wrong.

Man J. Kim tries to persuade the guests that he is the baby on the wall. They don’t seem convinced.

April 28: Korean War Veterans’ Advocate Hannah Kim’s Visit to Korean War Memorial

Thanks to Anna Lopez for her photos of Hannah Kim’s visit

On Saturday, April 28, Hannah Y Kim, a woman with a mission, paid a visit to the Korean War Memorial in the Presidio of San Francisco, and presented a ceremonial wreath. This was the beginning of an ambitious three-month journey by Hannah, visiting Korean War memorials in all 50 states, to honor and remember those who served in that conflict, and to help promote a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Given the alarming level of tensions in the region today, her mission could not be timelier.

Hannah Kim presents wreath with Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.), President & Chairman, KWMF

Noah Griffin

 

A highlight of the ceremony came when San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim presented Hannah with a Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco.

Joanne Cho

Hannah with S.F. Supervisor Jane Kim and Certificate of Honor

 

Following the ceremony, Hannah Kim was interviewed by members of the media, including ABC7 TV News San Francisco, and then posed for memento photos with a group of KWMF’s members and guests.

San Francisco’s ABC7 TV news crew interviews Hannah

A group photo with Hannah at the Memorial wall

Hannah Kim’s devoted activism on behalf of Korean war veterans began in 2008, when she was a 24 year old graduate student in Washington, DC and launched “Remember 727,” an organization dedicated to honoring the veterans. She lobbied Congress to enact legislation, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, that established July 27(“727”) as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

Hannah subsequently worked for Congressman and decorated Korean War veteran Charles B. Wrangel, initially as his communications director and later as his chief of staff. At present she is just reaching the Korean war memorials on the East Coast, after more than two months on the road.