This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War. My late father, Cpl. E. Kundert was a veteran of this conflict, as well as the Second World War.
Last fall I saw a notice on the local Legion’s Facebook page regarding the issuance of a Korean Peace Medal — all one had to do was apply. I initiated the application process and shortly afterwards the Korean Embassy in Vancouver was in touch.
A South Korean training ship, Munmo The Great, would soon be at the Esquimalt Naval Base, their 13th stop. They would be honoured to have the Canadian veterans of the Korean War and their families attend a presentation ceremony on Dec. 19, 2019. My mother and sister arrived from Calgary to be a part of this ceremony.
Unfortunately, a Pineapple Express weather system descended that day and prevented the ceremony from being held on the ship’s deck. The naval crew hastily organized tarps and heaters in order to protect the attendees from the inclement weather; they were determined to show us a good time!
There were seven veterans who were in attendance along with the dignitaries. There were speeches, entertainment, an assortment of Korean food delicacies and the presentation of the medals. The Korean contingent expressed their deep gratitude towards the Canadian veterans for their volunteerism and response to the Korean War. Each veteran was also presented with a laser engraved statue that was 1,950 mm high, depicting a soldier extending a helping hand to a child. One of the veterans asked the band to play ‘The Farmer’s Song’, a song that he heard many Koreans singing during the war; he felt it gave them hope for a better day. The band played and he sang along with the singers — it was a very moving tribute.
It was such an honour to be on board the ship and to be welcomed so heartily. My mother, Evelyn Kundert, accepted the Korean Peace Medal on behalf of my dad. The thanks from the Korean Navy, the Consulate General Mr. Kangjun Lee, and the Veterans Association, to the Canadian soldiers who volunteered to serve and help preserve their freedoms, was heartfelt and sincere — a truly memorable experience!