Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War and efforts are still underway to understand the U.S. involvement in the conflict. Graceland University in Lamoni in involved in one of the biggest projects to chronicle the people and events of what’s called the forgotten war. Professor Paul Edwards heads the “Center for the Study of the Korean War” located at Graceland’s Independence, Missouri campus. They’re involved in the Library of Congress Veterans Oral History Project in which they tape the stories of veterans from Missouri, Iowa and Kansas. Edwards says a Korean War archive was started in 1989 after scholars discovered it really was a forgotten war. He says the historians were looking for material on the war and couldn’t find much, so they started the archive with a few letters. They now have 120,000 documents, 1,800 books, and thousands of photographs. Edwards says part of the problem is the vets keep the stories to themselves. He says they tend to talk a little more when they get older — tending to talk about the funny things that happened, but not the serious things. Edwards says the timing of the Korean War is part of the reason it has been forgotten. He says the significance of World War II was fading as the war in Korea was a political war that many people didn’t understand. He says the Korean War began like World War Two and ended like the Vietnam War. He says the veterans he’s talked to wonder why their sacrifices aren’t recognized like those made by the vets of World War II. He says there’s not a bitterness, because he says that would imply they’re concerned about it. He says there was a lot of popular support for World War II, and there was popular and unpopular support for the Vietnam War, and Korean vets wonder why there’s little feeling about it. Edwards says they’re looking for more Korean vets to record their memories of the war. He says they’re also looking for people who have Korean War memorabilia or other items they’d like to donate to the archive. You can send information to Graceland University, 1401 Truman, Independence, Missouri 64050. Or call the professor at 816-833-0524. The archives are open to the public during the week. Edwards, who is a Korean vet, has written several books on the war.
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