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Korean War Symposium to commemorate 50th anniversary

Called the Forgotten War or sometimes the "Police Action," the conflict in Korea 50 years ago will be discussed in a two-day meeting in June sponsored by New Mexico State University and assisted by the United Veterans Council of Las Cruces.

The Korean War Symposium will be held on the NMSU campus June 23-24 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the start of the war. Celebrations are being scheduled worldwide, including an international symposium in Seoul, Korea, that will bring together top ranked and highly decorated veterans and officials from United Nations countries that participated in the Korean War.

The war lasted for three years, June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. It ended with the signing of the truce at Panmunjom but only after one and a half million men, women and children had died, and two and a half million persons had been wounded or injured.

The local symposium will be patterned after the highly successful World War II symposium that was held on the NMSU campus several years ago. That event was under the direction of NMSU President Emeritus Gerald W. Thomas and served as an educational vehicle for historians, military veterans and families, and students at all levels.

The academic look at the Korean War also is the brainchild of Thomas, who has drawn together university military historians and members of the United Veterans Council. Topics to be discussed include the political and historical background of the country, the major battles including the key invasions and the part played by the American armed forces. The round table discussions will include personal experiences by Korea veterans, many from the southern New Mexico area.

"We want to contact as many area veterans of the Korean War as we can find who are interested in participating in the discussions, providing oral histories or helping in putting together this 50th anniversary event," said Dr. Ray Sadler, chair of the NMSU history department and co-chair of the symposium. The meeting will be free and open to the public.

Personal mementos, souvenirs, weapons and photographs of the Korean War are being solicited for a public display. Sadler said that right now the symposium committee is putting a list together on what is available for use in the June display.

"If anyone has any items that they want to display or want to be part of the event, we hope that they will contact me or my co-chairman, Walt Baker," Sadler said. Sadler can be contacted at 646-4601 or by email at losadler@nmsu.edu. Baker, representing the Veterans Council, can be reached at 525-3990 or by email at wfbaker@worldspy.net.

Eddie Groth
Jan. 19, 2000