SB 656, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cierpiot and signed into law last year, designated the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial (MKWVM) in Kansas City as the state’s official veterans memorial for the Korean War. The site pays tribute to 900 Missouri servicemen who gave their lives during the war, including more than 100 Kansas Citians.
MKWVM Chair Debra Shultz said the tribute, first opened in 2011, was a promise she made to her father, a Kansas City resident and Korean War veteran. Schultz said the designation would allow the memorial to access federal grants for expansion and to partner with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to hold a memorial ceremony during its national conference in Kansas City next year.
“It started as a commitment and it became a passion,” Shultz told The Missouri Times. “We’re one of the most active memorials in the country and we’ve worked very hard for several years to get our memorial designated as the Missouri Korean War veterans memorial, and we’re thankful for the help of the senator, representatives, and our veterans who made this a reality.”
“It’s an honor to share these stories and remember those who fought for our country,” Shultz added.
The celebration was originally scheduled for last year but was delayed due to the pandemic.
Cierpiot said he was glad for the opportunity to bring attention to the memorial Tuesday.
“We always call it ‘the forgotten war,’ and it kind of is until people read about it, and they’re stunned by the sacrifice these guys made,” Cierpiot said. “It’s a fitting memorial to remind people of these sacrifices. When you see all these names it’s simply stunning.”
Shultz noted the memorial was a tribute to Korean survivors of the war in addition to veterans.
Yong Kim, a Korean American whose grandfather is included in the memorial, said the memorial was essential to show appreciation for those who fought in the conflict.
“We have to honor them, not only in Missouri but everywhere,” Kim said. “I’m very happy to try and help the best I can to honor these veterans. We all appreciate their great sacrifice.”
“We’ll be able to pass this down long after all of us in this room today won’t be here,” Parson, a veteran, said. “This memorial will make sure people remember the uniform and all the people that wear it, in the future and the past.”
Parson said Missouri ranks No. 15 in terms of its population serving in the military.
Parson, Cierpiot, Haffner, and Griffith were presented medals depicting the Missouri state seal as well as the American, South Korean, and United Nations flags in honor of their efforts.
The memorial is located in downtown Kansas City near Union Station and is the beneficiary of several local entities, including Cleveland University Kansas City and the VFW Foundation. The site included a monument to Korean War veterans dedicated in 2011 and will feature a plaque denoting its state designation.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at email@example.com.