June 25 Commemoration: Anniversary of the Start of the Korean War

photo of crowd seated in front of memorial, listening to speakers
Photos by Steve Bosshard and Jeny Kwak Weber

Tuesday, June 25 saw a strong and enthusiastic turnout at the Korean War Memorial for a ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

photo of KWMF Executive Director, Gerard Parker, standing in front of the memorial welcoming seated guests

KWMF Executive Director Gerard Parker welcomed the guests, and asked them to stand for the Invocation by Steven D. Wiegert, Chaplain, Marine Corps League Chapter 686, Santa Rosa, CA, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

photo of Chaplain Wiegert delivering the invocation

Chaplain Wiegert delivered the Invocation.

audience standing with heads bowed, praying

Solemnly listening to the Invocation, from left, are KWMF’s Pete Gleichenhaus, Mitch Leiber, and Frank Mendez; Jeny Kwak Weber, President of the Korean American Community Center; Noah Griffin, Founder and Creative Director of the Cole Porter Society; KWMF’s Don Reid, Quentin Kopp, and Man J. Kim; and members of the Northern California Korean American Veterans Association.

Noah Griffin stands singing in front of the memorial wall

Following the Invocation, Noah Griffin sang a stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Following Noah’s performance, KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim sang the Korean National Anthem.

Quentin Kopp speaks to the assembled crowd

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.), KWMF President and Chairman, addressed the audience. He put the war into historical and geopolitical context, and emphasized its relevance in today’s world.

photo of Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Korea speaking in front of the memorial

KWMF’s partnership with the Government of the Republic of Korea was pivotal in getting this Memorial built. KWMF was honored to have Deputy Consul General Jimin Kim of the Consulate General in San Francisco speak on behalf of his government.

photo of assembled members of the Northern California Korean American Veterans Association

Listening intently were members of the Northern California Korean American Veterans Association. These men and women are staunch supporters of KWMF’s activities.

Presidio Trust's Eric Blind speaks to the crowd

Also pivotal in getting this Memorial built was KWMF’s partnership with the Government of the United States, specifically with the dedicated men and women of the Presidio Trust. Eric Blind, Ph.D., Park Interpretation Manager, spoke on behalf of the Trust.

Michael Lamb and Genevieve Bantle listening to ceremony

Two members of the talented Presidio Trust team responsible for the Memorial’s striking design and serene setting dropped by to attend the ceremony: Michael Lamb, Historic Landscape Architect, and Genevieve Bantle, Associate Director, Park Design and Construction. When this photo was taken, the Master of Ceremonies had just praised their contributions, and the Korean-American veteran seated on the left can be seen applauding them accordingly.

Frank and Paul grasp hands, smiling, in front of memorial

Next, Korean War veterans Frank Mendez, KWMF Board member, and Paul Jaejeong Yoo, President of the Northern California Korean American Veterans Association, placed a commemorative wreath at the base of the wall, in remembrance of all who served and sacrificed in the Korean War. The wreath ribbon reads “Remembering the Forgotten War.” KWMF owes a debt of gratitude to KWMF Board member and Korean War veteran Wallace I. “Wally” Levin, LtCol, CSMR (Ret.). As Community Service Officer of historic VFW 91st Division/Chinatown Post 4618, Wally arranges to have fresh floral wreaths donated for all of KWMF’s events at the Memorial.

Wallace Stewart plays

As the ceremony wound to a close, KWMF Education Director Wallace Stewart, a Korean War veteran, played “Taps.” This was followed by a parting Benediction from Chaplain Wiegert.

Following the ceremony at the Memorial, KWMF Vice President Man J. Kim hosted his annual Korean War Veterans Appreciation Luncheon for more than 200 guests at his Golden Gate Grill restaurant in San Francisco.

guests seated at memorial luncheon, talking

Seated, from left: KWMF’s Quentin Kopp, Gerard Parker, and Frank Mendez with KWMF supporters Kathryn and Richard Friedman, a Korean war veteran. In the right foreground — with his back to the camera, alas! — is former KWMF Secretary Arthur W. “Art” Curtis, LCDR, USCGR (Ret.).

guests talking and laughing

A U.S. Navy veteran shared a laugh with some new Korean-American friends.

Korean War veterans from the Veterans Home of California in Yountville smile for the camera as they eat lunch

A group of Korean War veterans from the Veterans Home of California in Yountville came down by chartered bus. A traffic accident en route delayed them from getting to the morning ceremony at the Memorial, but fortunately, they made it to the luncheon on time.

Man J Kim and Don Reid sing Arirang

Following good food, wine, and exciting traditional Korean musical performances, KWMF’s Man J. Kim and Don Reid took to the stage for an impromptu duet of the beloved Korean folk song “Arirang.”

a larger group sings Arirang

The duet soon became a chorus, as other guests joined in the singing, bringing the luncheon to a cheerful conclusion.