Nearly 95,000 Minnesotans were among 1.8 million Americans that took part in a three-year fight on the Korean Peninsula and now, 65 years later, lawmakers are pushing to find new ways to recognize those men and women.
HF4225 would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to design, produce and develop a Korean War commemorative ribbon and medallion. Under the bill, the agency would determine recipients’ eligibility and distribute the ribbons and medallions by July 27, 2019 – on the 66th anniversary of an armistice agreement signed in Panmunjom, North Korea.
The bill would require the department to use the Support Our Troops fund – money collected from specialty license plates – to foot the cost, which Ben Johnson, the department’s legislative director, called “challenging.” Projects receiving Support Our Troops funding, he said, must go through a competitive grants process.
The House Veterans Affairs Division heard the bill Monday but took no action. Its companion, SF3942, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo), awaits action by the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee.
Gov. Mark Dayton previously proclaimed Sept. 15 as Minnesota Korean War Remembrance Day and the state has a Korean War Veterans Memorial outside the veterans building in the Capitol Complex. The federal government recognizes July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.
Rep. Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen), the bill sponsor, said it’s time “to lift up and give visibility” to Korean War veterans, who “have remained somewhat in the shadows” of World War II veterans.
World War II veterans in Minnesota have received similar recognition.
“Do your very, very best to honor the people that [fought in Korea],” World War II veteran Fremont Gruss told the division.
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