The Korean War Memorial
America-Korean Alliance Peace Park
Montgomery Township Board Backs Planned
Korean War Memorial, Peace Park
MONTGOMERY TWP. — One of Montgomery Township’s parks could soon host a memorial to those who gave their lives in one of America’s least-remembered conflicts.
On Monday night, the supervisors unanimously voted to allow development of a Korean War memorial at Memorial Grove Park, a site that state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151st District, said will make for a fitting location to honor the fallen.
“It really is designed to be a place to reflect on, and honor, and remember those who served in the Korean War, and we think that really does mesh well with the intent of Memorial Grove,” he said.
Located off of Kenas Road near Oxford Drive, Memorial Grove currently features a walking trail that leads west to a sundial surrounded by benches, meant to provide space for reflection. Preliminary concepts for a new memorial design have been drawn up by leaders of the local Korean-American community, and could include an elevated pedestal with Korean and American soldier statues standing guard, with names or inscriptions on the sides of the pedestal and possibly on a plaza surrounding it. Stephens said Monday that details of the design can now be worked out with the site approval granted by the supervisors.
“You don’t really know how much money you need until you know exactly what you’re going to build, and you don’t know what you’re going to build until you know where you can build it, which we now do,” he said.
The inspiration for the memorial grew out of the annual Cultural Day event hosted by the 21st Century America-Korea-China Leaders Society at Parkside Place in Upper Gwynedd. Organizer and Society General Secretary Bong Pil Yang said the September 2013 ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice drew nearly 400 veterans, and led organizers to look to the future.
“All of the Korean War veterans are old folk, and every year more pass away. Maybe after five years, if they’ve all died, then this would end that connection between Korea and the United States,” Yang said.
“We need to continue for the next generation that relationship, so we’ve come up with this Korean War Memorial and America-Korea Alliance Peace Park, where we can invite all of the veterans, families, and anyone who served in Korea as a U.S. soldier,” Yang said.
The Korean government estimates roughly 10,000 U.S. military personnel return stateside from duty in Korea each year, and while they may have a better feel for a conflict six decades ago, only 139 Korean War monuments exist in the United States, with just six of those in Pennsylvania — none of which include a park or space for reflection.
A corporation has been established, the Korean government has expressed its support and representatives have met with the local lawmakers, and leaders are currently seeking nonprofit status to assist with fundraising, according to Yang. Montgomery Township was suggested because of the roughly 45,000 residents of Korean background in Montgomery County, which make up roughly 10 percent of Montgomery Township and several neighboring municipalities.
The 2014 anniversary ceremony and cultural day is scheduled for Sept. 20, at the Parkside Place complex, and Yang said early estimates are that it will take roughly two years to raise the funds, secure approvals, and construct the Peace Park where that event can be held in the future.
Stephens said he and fellow representatives Kate Harper (R-61st District) and Tom Murt (R-152nd) have vowed to “do anything we can to assist” in making the memorial become a reality. Montgomery supervisor Michael Fox suggested the township contribute services of its professional consultants such as engineers and architects to help facilitate.
“We’re always on the lookout for people who are willing to support in the upkeep of those areas, and if there were another memorial there, perhaps we could further generate some additional volunteers that would be able to help us maintain the area. I think it’s a very worthy cause,” Fox said.
Board Chair Joe Walsh added that the park could be used as a place to host events for local communities of veterans, and could add traffic to the park — which Stephens said could come from visitors across the county, state, country, and perhaps even globally.
“The goal is really to make this a place for folks to come from far and wide,” Stephens said.
Anyone interested in making donations or assisting the Peace Park effort can contact Yang at his Martial Arts School in North Wales by calling (215) 661-1884, visiting 127 South Main Street in North Wales orwww.YangsMartialArt.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; or can contact any of the three local representatives via their local offices: Stephens - call (215) 368-5165, visit www.RepToddStephens.com or his Montgomery Township office at 515 Stump Road, or email Tstephen@PAHouseGOP.com; Harper - call (610) 277-3230, visit www.KateHarper.net or her Blue Bell office at 1515 DeKalb Pike, or email KHarper@PAHouseGOP.com; Murt - call (215) 674-3755, visit www.RepMurt.com or his Hatboro office at 19 S. York Road, or email TMurt@PAHouseGOP.com.e your paragraph here.
By Dan Sokil, The North Penn Reporter
POSTED: 07/15/14, 7:19 PM EDT | UPD