The Korean War Memory Tour Quickly Reviewed Michigan Today

Considering the fact that 1,456 Michiganders died in Korea, seventh highest total of any state, one might expect even more Korean War to be present in localities throughout the Wolverine state. The earliest Korean War memorials in Michigan date from the mid-1950s, with the first an Honor Roll in the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park dedicated on May 23 of 1954, less than 10 months after the armistice (as can be seen in the image at the top of the page).  The Mecosta County War Memorial was built in 1954   and honors those who died in the World Wars as well as Korea, later adding those who died in Vietnam.  Though it is likely that several additional war memorials across the state of Michigan that mention Korea were dedicated from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, such as the Branch County Korean and Vietnam War Memorial in Coldwater, it would be three decades before any more dated monuments were built.

The first Michigan locality to build a dated Korean War memorial after this long layoff was the town of Kalamazoo, which constructed a Veterans monument in Bronson Park in 1985, the same year the Detroit suburb of Garden City, dedicated a monument to honor local Korea Vets on May 30, 1985On July 27 of 1988, exactly 35 years after the signing of the armistice, Monroe dedicated a memorial on the Raison River that includes a bronze plaque dedicated to all veterans and a local list of names among its design elements.  Completed as part of a set alongside other stones honoring World War or Vietnam dead, the Dearborn Korean War Monument that was dedicated in 1991 names it as the ‘Forgotten War’.  The last local Korean War monument completed in the state of Michigan prior to the dedication of the national memorial in DC was finished in 1994 in the Lake Michigan city of St. Joseph, which later moved. I was able to see the last four of these memorials on the same day while returning from KC in June 2015.

Several more Korean War memorials would be built in Michigan in the last two decades, starting with a monument in Sterling Heights in 1998 and one in Traverse City in 2000.  Beyond monuments, in 2002 the Michigan legislature passed a law naming part of state highway 82 after Korean War Veterans, after studying the fiscal impact of the project.  On the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the armistice, July 27 of 2003, the city of Saginaw dedicated a Korean War Memorial at their Veterans Memorial Plaza. Most recently, on Memorial Day of 2016 the city of Grand Ledge dedicated a Korean War monument that calls the conflict ‘The Forgotten War’ while also asserting that Korea is ‘No Longer Forgotten’.

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