Remembering what was 'forgotten'
JANESVILLE Lamar Deuel Sr. fought in "the forgotten war." The organizers of the Janesville Veterans Day ceremony tried to make up for that.
The Korean War got special emphasis Sunday at the annual event at Veterans Plaza in Traxler Park. About 200 people turned out.
Deuel served in Korea from 1952-54. The armistice ending the major fighting was signed in 1953, but the war has never officially ended. About 29,000 U.S. troops still serve there, ready in case the war re-starts.
Decades after Deuel left Korea, Deuel's nephew, Cody Leggs, was preparing for a tour in Korea. Leggs asked his uncle what to expect.
"I looked at him and said, 'There were grass huts and dirt roads, and now they have high-rises and superhighways. I can't tell you anything.'"
Leggs later served in Iraq, where he died in battle.
Veterans Day is for all veterans, but it's impossible not to make special mention of those who died in this nation's wars.
Deuel said he still feels his war is not held in high esteem. He said he and others have noticed that speakers discuss World War II and then go straight to Vietnam.
"They don't even realize they skipped over the one in between," Deuel said.
That was not the case Sunday. Tom Stehura, president of the Janesville Patriotic Society, spoke of the 1.79 million who fought in Korea, the 33,700 killed in action, the 118,650 Purple Hearts awarded to those who were wounded and the 4,759 still listed as missing in action and prisoners of war.
Stehura introduced a small group of veterans in Korean-era garb and rifles, who marched in and stood solemnly as they re-enacted the statues of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., representing a U.S. unit on patrol.
Lt. Rick Larson of the Janesville Police Department, a 1979 graduate of Craig High School and an Air Force veteran, was the event's main speaker.
Larson said he asked younger members of the police force who are veterans about their service. They told him:
-- "I was lucky to have served."
-- "It was hard as hell at times, but I gained from my experience."
-- "I learned to appreciate my home, my family and my country."
-- "It was invaluable. It put me where I am today."
The country will need people to fight its wars in the future, Larson said, and if today's veterans are treated with honor and respect, the children will see that and be willing to serve, as well.
"We owe our veterans a great deal. Some have sacrificed financially; they've been away from family, and they've risked their lives," Larson noted. "Some have lost their lives."
Korean War veteran Al Funk gave the invocation and benediction at the ceremony.
"We pray that their sacrifices will not be in vain," he said.
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