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Dearborn vets scaling down this year's Korean War commemoration ceremony

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The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council is planning to scale down this weekend's annual commemoration of National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day to brief outdoor morning ceremonies.

Since July 27 fell on a Sunday this year, DAWVC Korean War Commemorative Committee Chairperson John Ruselowski said the committee decided to pay respects in simple tribute at the 61st anniversary remembrance ceremony, rather than the traditional program followed by a big dinner afterward. Instead, he said, at 10 a.m. DAWVC Commander Nancy Dlugokenski will lay a wreath at the main monument commemorating Dearborn's fallen in World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War at City Hall, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Schaefer Road.

Then George Harvey, who was wounded twice at Pork Chop Hill, will read the names of the 26 names of Dearborn servicemen inscribed on the section of the monument commemorating the Korean War, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Former paratrooper Bob Totten will deliver the invocation and benediction.

When this City Hall ceremony concludes, Ruselowski said, another brief ceremony of five-to-10 minutes will follow at 10:45 a.m. at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave. A couple of wreaths will be laid at a “living memorial” to the Korean War located near the center's pond, he said.

After the morning's outdoor ceremonies are concluded, Ruselowski said, then people can head over to the Cpl. Ian M. Gray Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Post No. 51, 6117 Chase Road, Dearborn. They can enjoy some coffee, tea and donuts there, he said.

The living memorial was originally dedicated in July 2001, Ruselowski explained, when the late Mayor Michael A. Guido suggested three trees be planted to commemorate each year of the Korean War. A Michigan granite rock was placed there as well, which Ruselowski said has constantly changing “beautiful colors” when it rains, and bears a bronze plaque.

The 2001 ceremony was done as part of applying for the Defense Department's designation of Dearborn as one of its 3,000 “National Commemorative Communities,” he said, since the Dearborn veterans also commemorated the anniversary of the Korean War armistice as well as Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Veterans Day.

Former airman Ryan Hung, who received the Medal of Honor from the president of South Korea, has rung the bell every year since 2001 as the 26 names are read, according to Ruselowski, and the attendance at the annual ceremony has grown to 2,000-3,000. Though his committee still receives many inquiries about this year's ceremony, including from the South Korean consulate in Chicago, Ruselowski said that the veterans decided a full ceremony will hopefully be held next year, after they have another year to recuperate from various ailments.

They originally fought in Korea when “most of us were 18-19 years old” and though they are now in their 80s, he said they still have the passion to always remember the 33,651 killed and 8,207 either missing in action or taken as prisoners of war (the huge exchange of prisoners on both sides took place in August following the armistice).

“Form our standpoint, those who survived won't ever forget,” Ruselowski said. “Our approach first and foremost this year is to pay tribute to those who lost their lives for freedom, and the brave men and women missing in action.

“We cannot forget,” he said.

The U.S. and 21 other countries sent troops to the war (14 more sending medical units or other support). Of the troops under the United Nations, 150,000 were killed, missing or wounded in the fighting (with America sustaining 46 percent of its total casualties between mid 1951 and July 1953). South Korea's military and civilian losses were listed at about 2 million people, while military casualties for North Korea and China were reported at 1.4 million. Of all Americans killed, 1,456 were from Michigan.

The North Korean army invaded across the 38th Parallel on June 25, 1950; leading the United Nations to support the South Koreans. The UN forces held out in the Pusan perimeter in the southeast corner, until the Inchon landing enveloped the North Korean army and recaptured Seoul. Invasion of the north brought a massive invasion by Red China, driving the UN forces south of Seoul until a counterattack fought back to the 38th Parallel, where the war ended after a two-year stalemate.

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