By Michele Dotson firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, November 9 at 10:30 am, an elaborate and poignant ceremony was held at Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park, formerly Mint Hill Park on Fairview, to dedicate and officially open the Korean War Memorial.
The park sign with the newly adopted name was unveiled just prior to the memorial dedication. The Park will now officially be known as Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park.
Honored guests and speakers included Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers, Mint Hill Town Council, visiting dignitaries from the Republic of Korea, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09), State Representative Bill Brawley (R), Mr. Kent Goolsby, architect for the project, and Don Putnam, co-chairman of the committee responsible for bringing the monument to realization.
After presentation of the colors, both the US national anthem as well as the national anthem for the Republic of Korea were sung.
The invocation was delivered by retired US Navy chaplain Young Ha, who remembered sacrifices made to help a country gain its freedom.
“South Korea has become a free and prosperous nation,” says Ha. “We pray for all those who fought and died, and those missing in action. May blessings be upon them.”
Republic of Korea General Consul, the Honorable He Beom Kim, delivered a message of gratitude to the US and for the commemoration.
“Today we are here to honor the true heroes who put their lives in harm’s way for people they had never met and didn’t know,” says Kim. “On behalf of the Republic of Korea, I am here to extend our gratitude to you. You are the heroes who made all the difference. Freedom is not free. Our debt to you is something we can never repay.”
Don Putnam, who fought in the Korean War, and believed it to be, “a good war and a justified war,” has worked tirelessly for the past five years to complete the monument, the only one of its kind in North Carolina honoring Korean War veterans.
A military fly over, a 21-gun salute, and TAPS rounded out the hour-long ceremony.
Afterwards, visitors were invited to enjoy the monument.
In the center of the memorial is an eternal fountain in the shape of the Korean Taeguek which is a part of the South Korean flag.
Four 11-foot black granite pillars surround the fountain and include the names of the 789 North Carolinians who made the supreme sacrifice for the freedom of South Korea and the United States. Granite benches face each of the four pillars.
Two life sized statues of American soldiers are also part of the monument. The memorial is surrounded by granite benches and small flowering plum trees.