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Hello Mr. Ko
Vincent Courtenay  2010-05-21 09:19:28, ?? : 6,701, Vote : 1043

Hello Mr. Ko,

I am Vincent Courtenay, a Canadian Korean War Veteran and also a member of the Republic of Korea's Advisory Council of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee.

I received your e-Mail address from Colonel Wiedhahn, who has sent you a message about his experiences serving in the Busan region in 1950 with the United States Marine Corps. I note that he landed in Busan on my birthday, when I turned 16.

Can you please let me know some of the details about your campaign to support development of the United Peace zone adjacent to the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea?

I frequently consult with the staff at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery and also developed the Monument to Canadian Fallen that is sited in the Canadian Graves section within the Cemetery.

I would be very interested in how high schools are supporting this movement and what your goals may be.

I have, for many years, been particularly interested in ensuring that the United Nations Memorial Cemetery remains in proper dignity to commemorate the soldiers who fell, and as a well maintained resting place for those who are interred there among their brave comrades.

Flowers on graves of comrades who fell

I visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery a few weeks ago. A Korean aide was handing flowers to the veterans to place on the grave markers.

First I took six flowers and set them on the grave markers of friends from my unit who had fallen. Then I had to get six more flowers and place them on the graves of another six. So you will understand that visiting the cemetery in Busan is a very solemn time for me.

Suk-po choir performances, Busan and Canada

In 2001 I worked with the assistant custodian who coached the Suk-po School Elementary Choir and had them sing in a service at the cemetery the Ode to Canadian Fallen, for which I had written the lyrics.

It has since become the Ode to United Nations Fallen and is still sung by the choir whenever they are invited to participate in services at the cemetery.

In 2003 I was successful in getting Mr. Chung Mong-koo, the chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, to pay to fly the entire choir and its instructors and chaperones to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa.

Veterans Affairs Canada graciously paid for their hotel and meals while in Ottawa for a one-week period.

Network Television Coverage in Canada

The choir sang at a two-hour long ceremony at which a second Monument to Canadian Fallen was dedicated and Consecrated.

The Prime Minister of Canada officiated at the ceremony and the choir sang beautifully and played their kayugum instruments throughout.

The ceremony was covered by Canadian national network television for its entire two hours and broadcast live all across Canada.

Combined memorial service, Canada and Busan

We sited the Monument in Ottawa so that the figure of the Canadian soldier - who carries no weapons, but has a Korean child in his arm and leads another by the hand - faces along a precise plot line to the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan.

On November 10, at 9 o'clock in the evening in Ottawa, Korean War Veterans and some Canadian government officials, as well as the Korean ambassador to Canada, gather there and hold a commemoration service for the servicemen who fell in Korea.

At the exact same time it is 11 a.m. on November 11 in Busan. At the exact same time a commemoration service is being held within the United Nations Memorial Cemetery.

It is noteworthy that many veterans groups all across Canada also turn toward Busan at that time, to pay silent tribute to their Fallen Comrades.

The Monument in Ottawa is an exact replica of the Monument to Canadian Fallen that is situated within the United Nations Memorial Cemetery.

Both monuments were crafted by Korean artist, Yoo Young-mun of Pochon. Mr. Yoo came to the UN Cemetery to put the monument in place. He also flew to Canada two times to assemble and install the Monument that is now sited in Ottawa.

I am a friend of Mr. Leo DeMay, the international affairs director at the UN Cemetery. Mr. DeMay comes from Canada. His father fought in the Korean War and fell in Korea and is buried within the cemetery.

So you see, there are many interesting stories to tell about the United Nations Memorial Cemetery. There are many creative ways in which you can contribute to the continued development of the grounds and final resting place of our Fallen Comrades and ensure that their contribution to the People of Korea, and their sacrifice, is long remembered. Some of them were very young when they fell in the war.

Very best regards,

Vincent Courtenay

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