The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are ensuring that although the Korean War is over, the Americans who served in this conflict will not be forgotten.
In cooperation with the Department of Defense, DAR chapters nationwide are promoting the 50th anniversary of the War (June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953). The Lucy Meriwether Chapter, the local DAR Chapter in Laredo, will host a reception honoring local veterans who served in the war at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 in the Special Collections Room of Texas A&M International University's Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library. A commemorative display installed at the library will be presented and the public is welcome to attend.
The DAR has created a display of photos, artifacts and information at TAMIU's Killam Library as well as the Laredo Public Library. The display at TAMIU is visible in two cases when one first enters the library, and in an additional case near the reference desk. The three cases were mounted by Rosemary J. Contreras, DAR Constitution Week Committee chairman and Alejandra G. Puente, library clerk II. The two had worked on displays for Constitution Week in September and so, the Korean War display was a natural step. Puente even used objects from her father, a Korean War veteran, in the display.
The contents are moving. There is a photograph of a young man, Hershel H. Rosell, Jr., who is still listed as missing in action. Henry E. Gutiérrez is shown recuperating from wounds received in combat. A list of Laredoans who gave their lives in the conflict, as well as those missing in action, sits next to photos of Laredoans who served, their division logos in color below the picture. Combat boots, ammunition belts, dog tags and military ids surround the paper records.
Contreras said DAR wanted to support the veterans and to remind the public about an often forgotten conflict.
"When the men came home from the Korean War, there was no recognition of what they had done because they were fighting for another country. It was right after WWII and people didn't want to hear about war. So, the veterans came back and quietly went on with their lives. The casualties were great (in the Korean War). We hope to educate and make people aware of our history. We're a very patriotic organization and we wanted to honor these men, " said Contreras.
David C. Leyendecker's photo is in the display, showing a young man with his hands on his hips, pushing back the long army jacket to reveal his sidearm strapped to his right leg. He stands on a muddy field, next to a dark pup tent. Leyendecker said he and the other veterans were grateful to Contreras and DAR.
He explained that it was important for people to know about the war for several reasons.
"It was the first time the United Nations got together and really did anything, and it was the first time the expansion of communism was stopped. South Korea is free and democratic because we went over there. So, I think we accomplished a lot. People don't seem to realize that it set the stage for the Cold War and that we did manage to contain communism," said Leyendecker.
The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war will continue until November 2003. Contreras said she hopes to be able to have displays and events about this for the entire time, and plans to move the display at the Laredo Public Library to Laredo Community College later in the year. The display at TAMIU will be up until October.
For more information about the Daughters of the American Revolution and the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, please contact Rosemary J. Contreras at 724-1833. For more information about the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, including Library hours, please contact 326.2400.