“This is the parade they never got,” said Army Col. David J. Clark, director of the Defense Department’s 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee. “These guys didn’t come home to a lot of fanfare.”
Among the veterans on the float is Hiroshi Miyamura, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions as an Army corporal in Korea but says many of his comrades drew little thanks.
“That’s one of the reasons I decided to do it, because the Korean War veterans never received the recognition they earned,” Miyamura, 87, said in a telephone interview Thursday from Las Vegas, where he and his family had stopped en route from his home in Gallup, N.M., to Pasadena, Calif., for the parade.
The float is part of an effort to raise awareness of the anniversary not just among the American people but also among the Korean War veterans themselves, many of whom are unaware of the commemorations in their honor, including a recent Senate resolution designating 2012-2013 as the “Year of the Korean War Veteran,” Clark said.
“We were looking for a dynamic way that we can ring in this year in a way that reaches that generation,” said Clark, who also serves as director of foreign intelligence for the Army at the Pentagon. “We know that demographic watches this parade.”
The Tournament of Roses parade, now in its 124th year, draws a larger television audience than any other parade in the United States and is also broadcast in a number of other countries, according to the commemoration committee.
Compared with the Civil War
sesquicentennial, the War of 1812 bicentennial and the ongoing observation of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the Korean War commemoration has received little attention. The dedication of the Korean War memorial on the Mall in 1995 put a focus on the war, as did a 2000-2003 observation of the war’s 50th anniversary. “Other than a few events like that, the Korean War has been forgotten,” Clark said.
Clark said it is important to reach as many veterans as possible for the 60th anniversary. “Many of them are very elderly and won’t be around for the next milestone,” he said. The anniversary commemoration will culminate with a ceremony for the Washington area on July 27 marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting.
The Korean War float is 21 feet high and 55 feet long and is being decorated with 10,000 roses and 10,000 carnations. It was designed and built by two California float-building companies. The Defense Department is spending about $250,000 on the parade, part of the nearly $6 million that has been allocated for the three-year-long commemoration.