The Korean War Memorial, Mint Hill, NC
June 25th, 1950. Does that day ring a bell? To many it means nothing. For those who fought in the Korean War (often called “The Forgotten War”) it will never be forgotten because it is the start of the Korean War. Today in Mint Hill, North Carolina, Korean War Veteran Don Putnam is on a new mission. His goal is to build and finish the Korean War Memorial.
Mint Hill Park, the site of the Korean War Memorial, is under construction. The park, filled with beautiful trees, clean restrooms, and a picnic area is a peaceful, serene area. At the time of our visit the beautiful park was being invaded by constructions crews and their machinery. They were plugging along on the building of the monument.
Our tour guide for the day was Don Putnam; a dashing 80’s something Korean War Veteran. Don, a recipient of a Purple Heart we flew over 87 missions, is now “the man”, leading the way for the memorial to be built. He first told us about his service in the war. “I flew F-84 planes. I did 86 missions. On my 87th mission I was shot down and hospitalized. That is how I earned my Purple Heart.”
Putman was more interested in talking about the progress of the Memorial than his military service. As we walked around the site he gave us all the details. There will be four granite pillars (4 feet wide and 11 feet tall). In the center of these pillars there will be the names of 789 North Carolinian soldiers killed or missing in action. The names of those soldiers will be engraved on the granite columns. There will be a statue of an American soldier at each end of the memorial. One will be in a poncho and the other in class A uniform. The memorial will be a 60 foot diameter circle and it will be an open design. A 45 foot walkway will lead you from the parking area to the memorial. The completion date will be no later than June 2012. “I would like it to be finished and have the grand opening June 25th (2012). The anniversary of the Korean War,” Don said with a soldiers face, pride and honor gleaming in his eyes.
Like any other project, this Memorial is in need of financial help. There are many ways to be a contributor. You can send money to The North Carolina Korean War Memorial, NC.KWVA 70036, Thorncliff Dr., Charlotte, NC 28210-6509, or you can Purchase a granite paver with the name of the soldier you wish to honor. It will be part of the “Walkway of Remembrance.” They come in 3 sizes (8″x16″x3″, 12″x24″x3″, and 24″x24″x3″). Prices are $200, $500, OR $1,000. There is also an option to purchase a remembering tree for $1,000.
Mr. Putman also told us that the companies building the site donated their time and the Memorial fund need only pay for the material. This memorial is a mission of pride and respect and is personal to Don. It is his and the local Korean War Memorial boards way of honoring all those who fought in the Korean war – “The Forgotten War.”
By: Melissa Anderson
Photos By: Rockwell Anderson Media