60 Years Later, Oklahoma Korean War Vets Honored By Defense Department
TULSA, Oklahoma - It's often called "America's Forgotten War," but Friday, the Korean War was front-and-center at the Claremore Veterans Center.
It's been 60 years since the Korean War ended. Friday afternoon, whether they realized it or not, the 70 residents of the Claremore Veterans Center, who served in Korea, were given the country's thanks.
It was a tough job for Maj. Billy Canedo and Lt. Col. Dennis Snelling, representatives of the Secretary of Defense, traveling across the country to offer a nation's thanks, carried in a gold-trimmed, blue folder.
Some of them can venture only as far a wheelchair will carry them. It's been a long time since they were on the front lines in a faraway place, at a time their country was sick of war.
A world war had just ended, Vietnam lie in the future, so some called their war a "police action." It made it sound like an arrest on the corner. They said the United Nations was fighting it--they may have been.
But these men bore the brunt of it, even if today, so many can't remember it.
Doing this job, Major Canedo said he finds his heart soaring and breaking.
"As an Iraq veteran...When we went over to our conflict, there were people in the airport clapping. And when we came back from our war, people were clapping at the airport, too, and that's important for the American public. It just means to much," Canedo said. "These guys from the Korean generation never got anything like that. They never got a 'Thank you.'"
More than 60 years have passed. History books give them a passing mention, but Friday, at lunchtime, a country that promised never to forget them lived up to that, with every gold-trimmed, blue folder, slipped under a tired arm.
"I'm glad I survived to get this recognition," Korean War Army veteran Jesse Burgess said. "Because I lost a lot of friends in that campaign. One day, I'll meet my friends upstairs. One day will come."