Remembering End of the ‘Forgotten War’
Tom Wiley, of Canaan, leads the American Legion Post 22 honor guard into a ceremony at Colburn Park in Lebanon to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War cease-fire on Saturday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Korean War Veteran Nate Harpootlian, of Orange, covers his heart during a prayer read by Robert Pushee of American Legion Post 22 during yesterday’s commemoration at Colburn Park. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Brothers Leslie Hamilton, left, and Lloyd Hamilton of Newport’s American Legion Post 25, salute as a wreath is laid at a monument to veterans in Lebanon’s Colburn Park yesterday. The brothers brought the post’s Civil War era cannon to fire as a salute to veterans of the Korean War on the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire that ended hostilities. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — Spread across the green grass, below blue skies, they gathered to remember “the Forgotten War.”
Sons and daughters of the Korean conflict, friends of the fallen and military spouses sat quietly in Colburn Park yesterday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the Korean conflict.
Nate Harpootlian, of Orange, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran, sat in his crisp white shirt and dark blue uniform hat, a embroidered “Canaan” sewn into the side. He served in the Air Force from 1952-55 and has called New Hampshire home since 1945.
“Remember us,” Harpootlian said after the event.
“It’s in the history books. Some of us never came home. Do not forget them.”
The Guyer-Carignan American Legion Post 22 in Lebanon organized the commemoration event. Just after the City Hall clock struck noon, Stephen Favreau, an American Legion member and Vietnam War era veteran, welcomed those gathered on the chairs and benches. The day marked the signing of an armistice agreement between North and South Korea that came after three years of fighting. More than 36,000 Americans were killed in the war and 7,900 are still missing in action, according to the Pentagon.
Wedged between World War II and the Vietnam War, the conflict in Korea has been deemed “the forgotten war.”
Yesterday, more than 60 people remembered.
Entering the Lebanon green from West Park Street, three “Legion Riders” on motorcycles escorted the six-man honor guard that was carrying rifles, an American flag and a flag honoring America’s missing in action and prisoners of war, through Colburn Park and toward the bandstand where Favreau stood.
“Sixty years ago today, an official cease-fire and armistice went into effect,” Favreau said, asking the crowd to rise. Lebanon City Council member Karen Liot Hill sang the national anthem before Robert Pushee, first vice commander and acting chaplain for the Guyer-Carignan American Legion Post 22, lead a prayer and moment of silence.
Favreau then asked just the Korean War veterans and their families to stand. As the aged men and women stood, one with the assistance of his fellow veterans, slowly rising from his wheelchair, their weathered hands gripped canes and chair backs for balance.
At the front of the crowd, Janet St. Pierre, of Lebanon, stood to in honor of her dad, Richard Lyndes.
Lyndes died last October after nearly 30 years in the military, where he served in the Army during the Korean and Vietnam wars. His family spent time living in Germany, Massachusetts and Virginia before finally settling in New Hampshire.
“It was a lonely life,” Lyndes’ wife of 60 years, Diana Lyndes, said yesterday after the ceremony. “I missed him a lot.”
The mother and daughter said Richard Lyndes retired several times but kept re-enlisting. He rarely spoke of his experiences fighting overseas. St. Pierre’s husband, Peter St. Pierre, also served in Vietnam. He doesn’t talk about it either.
“Veterans talk to each other more,” Diana Lyndes said.
Janet St. Pierre said this is the first commemoration event in Lebanon specifically designed for Korean War veterans that she can recall, but that the family often attends events on Independence Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“I feel like the city of Lebanon is pretty supportive of the veterans,” she said.
During the ceremony, American Legion Post 22 Commander Len McMinn read a letter from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pushee read a letter from U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte. R-N.H. Maj. Gen. William Reddel III of the New Hampshire National Guard offered remarks as well.
“It’s amazing how much this gets lost, opportunities to remember our veterans,” he said during the ceremony, explaining that many veterans who served in Korea are still questioning the war’s purpose. “Many of them still feel like the mission isn’t complete,” he said.
Reddel emphasized that Americans should welcome home veterans of Korea and Vietnam at every opportunity.
Councilor Liot Hill spoke on behalf of the city. “Thank you for joining here today,” she said. “And to the veterans, thank you for serving our country.”
McMinn and Reddel joined Korean War veteran Everett Farnsworth on the grass in front of the stage, where they carried a wreath with a blue ribbon across the lawn and placed it in front of the memorial honoring “all the men and women from Lebanon who served their country in time of need.”
Three shots rang out, in unison, from the honor guard’s guns before an earth-shaking boom echoed from Newport American Legion Post 25’s Civil War-era cannon. As smoke swirled in the breeze, a lone trumpeter began playing Taps.
Favreau thanked veterans from World War I and World War II, the Vietnam and Korean wars, the Panama and Grenada invasions, Operation Desert Storm, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are truly appreciative,” he said.
Pushee gave a closing prayer before Favreau offered a few closing remarks.
“Have a great day,” he said to the crowd. “Never forget.”
Katie Mettler can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3234.