Memorial due in county for World War II, Korea veterans Construction to begin in Timonium in March

January 09, 1998|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF

For Baltimore County's World War II and Korean War veterans, Memorial Day this year will have new significance. Decades after the conflicts ended, their service will be honored with a monument, a gift to the county.

"It disturbs me that the United States waits so long to memorialize those who fought its wars," said John W. Armiger Jr., owner of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, who will present the monument May 25 at the cemetery's Circle of the Immortals.

County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder said the memorial "goes hand-in-hand with the Memorial Day services which are held at Dulaney Valley and it recognizes those veterans of the Korean War. They sometimes seem a little forgotten."

Bartenfelder, a Democrat representing Fullerton, sponsored a council resolution calling the $35,000 gift "a powerful and lasting tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their country."

Various county communities have war memorials, and the Spanish-American War, World War I and Vietnam are commemorated in Towson, the county seat. But until this, veterans of World War II and Korea had no countywide memorial.

Twenty-five Marylanders who died in Vietnam are buried in the Circle of the Immortals. Other state heroes, including several missing in action, are memorialized with plaques and on a low stone wall that surrounds it. A Me- morial Day service has been held there since 1967.

Armiger said his father, a World War II veteran, initiated the annual ceremony because he felt the public was losing sight of the meaning of Memorial Day.

He said Vincent Krepps, 66, of Towson, whose twin brother, Richard, died as a Korean prisoner of war in 1951, was the inspiration for the new monument. The brothers were in the same outfit, the 2nd Infantry Division, and a memorial to Richard Krepps was added to the circle last year.

When the county Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in 1996, Krepps said, "I realized that we'd been forgotten again." He broached the idea of a Korean memorial to a county official but was told it was too soon to start planning another one.

Krepps said he also discussed it with Armiger because of Dulaney Valley's tradition of recognizing heroism in the military and with the annual Fallen Heroes Day commemoration of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

"A light bulb went off in my head. I could accomplish this with very little red tape," Armiger said.

Armiger conferred with Korean and World War II veterans groups -- and county government -- then drafted a plan. Construction will begin in March.

The stone monument, 8 feet high and 10 feet wide, will be built into the circle's wall.

It will have bronze replicas of the World War II Victory Medal (1941-1945) and the Korean Service Medal (1950-1953). Between them will be a 4-by-5-foot replica of a photograph of one soldier comforting another after the death of a buddy in Korea in 1950, as a medic fills in the casualty log.

"I looked through many books for a picture and when I saw this one, I stopped looking. This said it all," Armiger said.

To those who served in the wars, a plaque will say, "Yours was the most remarkable generation of the Twentieth Century."

"It was the generation that saved the world," said Alan Walden, a broadcaster who will be master of ceremonies for the dedication.

Brig. Gen. John F. Burk of Timonium, chairman of the state World War II memorial commission, also served on Armiger's advisory group. "It's a great idea, the effort of a private citizen in memory of his father and all the others who served," he said.

The national Korean War Memorial was erected in Washington in 1995, while a national World War II Memorial is under discussion because of controversy about its location. Maryland will dedicate its World War II memorial this year, on the Ritchie Highway Overlook at the Severn River.

Pub Date: 1/09/98

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