‘Forgotten War’ veterans focus of 2013 Edmonds Memorial Day ceremony

Korean War veteran Tom Hallums with his grandson Owen Mather.
Korean War veteran Tom Hallums with his grandson Owen Mather.
The Color Guard.
The Color Guard.

Veterans and their families were the guests of honor at the Edmonds Cemetery Monday, as hundreds gathered for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. This year, the focus was on those who had served and lost their lives in Korea, during what is often called “The Forgotten War.”

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling told the crowd that he recalled being a young boy in Spokane during the time that U.S. troops, including some of his cousins, fought in Korea. The war, which lasted from 1950-1953, often is referred to as an action or a conflict, possibly due to the fact that it was a United Nations-endorsed action rather than a U.S. declaration of war.

Earling spoke about visiting the Korean War memorial in Washington D.C., noting “it took my breath away… with 19 stainless steel, 7-foot-tall soldier statues in full battle gear, fanned out on patrol in a barren knoll.”

The highlight of the ceremony was a reading by Meadowdale High School student Owen Mather, who told the story of a Korean War veteran, Staff St. Tom Hallums, who was sent to Korea in June 1950. “We kept getting told that we were involved in a military action or a police action or a conflict,” Mather quoted Hallums as saying. “Hell, the first week I was there, I ended up running out into a field with artillery fire all around us to retrieve three men who were hit with mortars.”

“When you’re 20 years old and tying ID tags around the toes of dead soldiers, many of whom were still teenagers, and loading the corpses into trucks in the heat that has caused an unforgettable stench, and you’re standing in frozen slush and stacking corpses into the back of trucks like cord wood, you realize it was more than a police action. It was war and it was a bloody war.

“Some may still refer to it as the Korean conflict and some have referred to it as ‘The Forgotten War,'” Mather’s reading continued. “Well those of us who fought there know it was war and we have never forgotten it.”

Then, to the crowd’s surprise, Mather concluded the reading this way: “The story I have told to you is the story of Staff Sgt. Tom Hallums. And he is here today and I’d like to introduce you to him. And by the way, he is my grandfather.”

To applause, Hallums was introduced to the crowd, but not before giving his grandson a hug.

The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Taps” by two trumpeters: 1st Sgt. Chris Edwards and City of Edmonds animal control officer Debbie Dawson, followed by “Amazing Grace” from bagpiper Mike Barber.

Korean War veterans pose for a photo after the ceremony.
Korean War veterans pose for a photo after the ceremony.




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