Photo: Andrew McMurtrie American flags with the names of the fallen veterans wave during the Veterans Memorial Services celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Saturday at the Town Green off Main Street in Duluth. The Korean War Commemoration Committee's Executive Director Colonel David J. Clark traveled from the Pentagon to join the American Legion for the annual Memorial Day observance in Duluth.
DULUTH -- For the 60th anniversary, Korean War veterans were recognized by the city of Duluth, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Dugan, U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall, Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter and the public on Saturday.
But they weren't the only ones. The Department of Defense's Col. David Clark was present to thank and honor all of the men and women who served during the Korean War.
"These days like Memorial Day and Veteran's Day when we as a nation can say 'thank you' to them, it's extremely important because most of these guys are in their middle 80s," Clark said. "This is probably the last time we as a nation we can say 'thank you.'
"Their service 60 years ago was amazing. They left their families and homes just like many soldiers are doing today and many of them didn't know if they were coming back. The ones that did come back lost some of the friends they went to war with, came back with scars and a lot of bad memories. For them, this is very important."
During the ceremony, four teenagers from the Duluth High School Navy Funior ROTC presented the colors, the Rev. Jae Kim of the Korean Community Presbyterian Church of Atlanta said the opening prayer and Woodall gave the opening remarks.
Clark, Lasseter and a representative from the American Legion took turns speaking to the veterans and the crowd, then segued into presenting the commemorative coins and Department of Defense appreciation certificates.
One side of the coin has an image of North and South Korea and the other has emblems of each branch of the service.
"I'm very happy," Duk Man Kang of Duluth said after being recognized. "I was a Korean soldier from 1951 to 1953. (There were) so many people dead (from my) company and the U.S."
Near the end of the ceremony, Duluth's American Legion Riders Post 251 took the podium for its "Fallen Heroes Salute." Elliott Foss of the Legion described the symbolism behind the memorial, which was made of a helmet, rifle, dog tags, pair of boots, white teddy bear and rose, and flags. Clark and Capt. Tony Fears brought a wreath that represented "undying love and affection for all fallen soldiers" according to Foss to the memorial and saluted while a lone horn player played "Taps" from the back of the audience.
"Korea came at a time when people didn't want to talk about war anymore," Clark said. "Many of them came home and people didn't know they had even serviced. It wasn't played up in the papers like World War II was. It is referred to as the Forgotten War -- we're here to correction that perception. It's an honor for us to be able to do this."
Throughout the rest of the weekend, Duluth has veteran memorial markers scattered throughout the city's roads to remember and honor men and women during the national holiday.