‘Korea Reborn’ available for local veterans
This is a story about an extraordinary book.
This also is a story about a “forgotten war” and a grateful nation — and not just our own, but the nation our veterans freed from first colonization and then military invasion.
So, to thank them for their service, that nation commissioned a book to be given free to those veterans.
South Korea, officially called the Republic of Korea, along with its veterans ministry and private businesses, paid for the production of 250,000 copies of “Korea Reborn: A Grateful Nation Honors War Veterans for 60 Years of Growth.”
It’s a mesmerizing hardbound book, with 160 pages of big photos — think Life magazine — following a time line of Korea in conflict and poverty and then economic rebirth and becoming a world power.
The first copies of “Korea Reborn” were given at the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 2013.
President Barack Obama said at that ceremony: “Unlike the Second World War, Korea did not galvanize our country. These veterans did not return to parades. Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country. These veterans did not return to protests. Among many Americans, tired of war, there was, it seemed, a desire to forget, to move on. As one of these veterans recalls, ‘We just came home and took off our uniforms and went to work. That was about it.’ You, our veterans of Korea, deserved better.”
And that’s why the Korean War is often referred to as the forgotten war.
To reverse that, Richard Miller of Grand Junction thought it was important to get copies of “Korea Reborn” into the hands of western Colorado veterans.
Because the book is unusual, its distribution is unusual. It’s not in bookstores, because it’s not to be sold.
Salt Lake City Publisher RMS — for Remember My Service — produced “Korea Reborn,” researching and writing for three years, with military cooperation for source material.
Daryl Guiver, vice president of operations for RMS, said the books this fall were given to point people in all 50 states. Each state decided how to make books available to veterans.
They quickly were given out. Few remain.
Miller contacted the Colorado distribution point person and was told some copies would be sent to the National Guard Armory.
But Miller has a friend in Oregon who was the point person there, and he arranged for Miller to get a box of books to bring to Colorado.
One went to Miller’s mail carrier, a Korean veteran, but Miller wanted to make the remaining books available to the most veterans.
So he delivered nine copies to Mesa County Public Libraries. There, Donna Bettencourt, collection development librarian, prioritized getting the books catalogued and into the library’s system. Now the books are available for checkout at every branch of the library.
RMS specializes in publishing historical and military commemoratives, typically for military units, including Navy ships and the National Guard. Most of those books are produced within a few months of their return home.
This commemoration of the Korean War is different, Guiver said.
“In some ways we have the luxury, many years later, to see the fruits of their sacrifices,” Guiver said of Korean veterans. “There are a lot of them who haven’t received this kind of feedback — they hadn’t realized how their service changed the world.”
Miller, an engineer and Korean veteran, joined the California National Guard when he was 14 years old. President Harry S. Truman activated his unit in September of 1950 when Miller was 16. He was in Korea only six weeks before a high school truant officer tracked him down. Soon he was called into the commanding officer’s office and told he was being shipped home.
Later, Miller was in the Naval Air Reserve, then the Army, where he was shipped back to Korea, which by then was in negotiations for a cease-fire. All told, he served for eight years in the military then attended college on the G.I Bill.
But his story is not important, Miller said. What’s important is that Korean veterans know the book exists.
“There were a lot of people in this country who were willing to go above and beyond to get this book distributed,” Guiver said. “There’s a lot of love out there for our veterans, and they need to know, both active duty and veterans, that their country appreciates them.”