Annual wreath-laying ceremony focuses on the 'forgotten war'

November 11, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Pat Patterson, a U.S. Army veteran from the Korean War, places a wreath on behalf of the Joint Veterans Council Sunday at the Washington County Courthouse.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Speaking about the war often referred to as the “forgotten war,” Hagerstown-area resident Les Bishop said the Korean War was one of the most significant events of the previous century and deeply affected the communist movement.

Bishop was the speaker at Sunday morning’s Veterans Day ceremony in front of the Washington County Courthouse in downtown Hagerstown. Approximately 130 people attended the 59th such ceremony sponsored by the American Legion auxiliary of Morris Frock Post 42 in Hagerstown.

This year’s ceremony focused on the Korean War. The 60th anniversary of the truce agreement that ended the war will be commemorated next year.

Bishop, 76, was an Army Security Agency crypt analyst assigned, during the Korean War, to the National Security Agency, he said. After serving in the Army, he went on to work for the NSA as a civilian, retiring in 1993. He is commander of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association.

The Korean War was the first time a combined force of nations stopped military aggression by a communist nation, Bishop told the crowd.

Under the last head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet Union splintered into 15 independent republics, including Russia, according to the CIA’s website at

Many writers have cited the United Nations’ victory in the Korean War for the split that later developed between communist China and the Soviet Union, he said.

“Several historians have written that it appears the defeat of communism in Korea led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union,” Bishop said.

“When you look at South Korea today and compare its progress with the lack of development in North Korea, there is even more reason to tout the Korean War as perhaps one of the most significant events of the 20th century. To me, that is not just a win. Communism got trounced,” Bishop said.

The local Korean War Veterans Association chapter will dedicate a new Korean War monument June 23, 2013, he told the crowd. Construction on the new monument, at Mealey Parkway in Hagerstown’s North End, is expected to begin as early as this week, Bishop said.

The intersection of West Washington Street and Summit Avenue was closed for the ceremony, which lasted about an hour.

People representing local veterans organizations and other groups lined up in front of the courthouse to place ceremonial wreaths in front of the American Legion war memorial.

“This is a very, very special and important ceremony as we honor our veterans, both inactive and active,” Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

“So please, as we celebrate today, let’s not forget those men and women who still serve to protect our country here and abroad,” Bruchey said.

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