Korean War veterans and their families braved the heat and humidity yesterday in Jersey City for the official unveiling of the refurbished Korean War Memorial, made possible by a generous donation.
The city of Uijeongbu in Gyeonggi, South Korea, donated $100,000 to Jersey City to update the monument at Paulus Hook after vandals defaced it, said Eddie Paradine, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association of Hudson County.
“Sixty-two years ago, the [Korean] War ended,” Paradine said in front a crowd outside the monument at the foot of Washington Street in Jersey City. “And now we can celebrate it by putting the finishing touches on the monument for the 133 soldiers from Hudson County who gave their lives.”
Eighteen new pictures were engraved inside the circular memorial, using the donated money, according to John Burns, the owner of Burns Bros. Memorials, whose company completed the work. The pictures depict scenes from modern day South Korea as well as the war.
The memorial’s mounted floodlights were ripped from their bases, and granite etchings of soldiers’ names were defaced last year.
New floodlights donated by a developer in Hoboken have since been installed and have deterred any more vandalism, Ward D Councilman Michael Yun said.
“They [the vandals] should have a good slap,” said Alfred Czarnetki, 89, who served as a Marine in 1950 during the war.
Meanwhile, a list of additional Hudson County residents who died while serving in the war is being compiled and their names will later be etched into the monument, explained Paradine.
The association is still looking into getting surveillance cameras.
Hyung Gil Kim, deputy counsel general of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York, expressed his gratitude on behalf of South Koreans.
“I was born and educated in a free democratic nation, and now I’m here with you today, all because of your service and sacrifices of the Korean War veterans,” said Kim to applause. “These days you can witness that Korea is writing an unprecedented story of success … All the while, North Korea has gone down a misguided road…”
“Ladies and gentleman, I tell you: The Korean War is not forgotten. The Koreans will never, ever forget the service and sacrifice of your brothers and husbands and your fathers and grandfathers.”