U.S. Army Col. Dave Clark made the remarks during a luncheon at the American Legion in Funkstown that was attended by about 65 Korean War veterans from Western Maryland and northern Virginia.
“What’s hanging over everybody’s head in the city right now is sequestration, and how that’s affecting military budgets across the board,” Clark said. “As a military activity we’re not immune ... It’s having an impact on our planning.”
Clark told the veterans that Pentagon officials had hoped to have a schedule of events in place by late February, but the process wasn’t going along as planned.
The Korean War ended after a little more than three years of fighting on July 27, 1953. North and South Korea remain divided today, and within the last week, North Korea has threatened military action against its neighbors to the south.
Clark said the celebration on July 27 ideally would take place at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., but the $1.9 million estimated cost, which possibly could include security for President Obama, might be too high.
He said the Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery has been considered as an alternate site. The amphitheater, however, offers a much smaller venue than the Korean War Memorial and can only hold about 5,000 people.
“The Korean War Memorial would be ideal,” Clark said. “That’s the overwhelming feedback we got from the veterans’ associations.”
Some of the Korean War veterans who attended Wednesday’s luncheon said they believed the government should find the money to honor those who served during what has become known as The Forgotten War.
Hagerstown resident John Jackson said he fought at the Chosin Reservoir. The battle, which lasted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13, 1950, is known as one of the most treacherous in American history.
“It’s a shame they might not have the money to do it,” said Jackson, who is a member of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association. “No wonder they call us the Forgotten War ... I believe they can find enough money if they try hard enough.”
Les Bishop, the commander of Chapter 312, echoed Jackson’s comments.
“Both the Department of Defense and one house of Congress have called this the Year of the Korean War Veteran,” Bishop said. “This is our time to be recognized for the service we gave during that period.”
The South Korean government made sure it recognized America’s Korean War veterans during Wednesday’s luncheon.
Lt. Col. Kang Moon Ho, assistant defense attache in the South Korean Marine Corps based at the South Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., spoke at the event to thank the veterans for their service.
“I’m here to show you deep appreciation from the Korean people — not only for the Korean War veterans, but also for the Korean War veterans’ families,” he said.
Bishop said the local Korean War veterans have scheduled their own ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary. One of those events involves the commemoration of a memorial on June 23 at Mealey Parkway in Hagerstown. The memorial will include the names of 32 men from Washington County who lost their lives during the Korean War.