Local Korean War veterans say they are off to a good start raising money to build a monument in Hagerstown to honor the men and women who served during that conflict.
But they still need the public’s financial support to help reach their $70,000 goal.
Charles Mobley Jr., monument committee chairman of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association, said the veterans have raised about $32,000 in cash and in-kind pledges since the collection drive began in mid-October.
“I feel very good about it,” Mobley said recently. “I think we’re going to be able to attain our goal.”
The Washington County Commissioners have voted to contribute the final $10,000 toward the monument as soon as the veterans’ group raises $60,000.
Additional fundraising efforts have been launched in the Maryland General Assembly.
The Korean War veterans asked Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, to make a request in Annapolis to help fund the monument.
Donoghue is the lone sponsor of a bill in the House asking for up to $40,000 for the project. A similar bill has been cross-filed in the Senate by Sens. Robert J. Garagiola, D-Montgomery, and Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington.
Both bills require that the veterans provide a matching amount if the legislature grants the money.
“I want to get the money for this great organization to build that monument,” Donoghue said.
He said the legislature should announce its decision by mid-March.
The budget committees — Appropriations in the House, Budget and Taxation in the Senate — have subcommittees that hold hearings on requests to fund local projects. They then decide which projects to fund.
Each year, Maryland’s capital budget includes $15 million for local funding requests.
Les Bishop, vice commander of Antietam Chapter 312, said the City of Hagerstown has agreed to let the veterans build the monument in a small triangular park known as Mealey Parkway off Potomac Avenue.
He said the veterans would like to have the monument ready to dedicate by July 27, 2013 — the 60th anniversary of the Korean War’s truce agreement.
Bishop, 75, and Mobley, 83, said there’s another reason to hasten the project.
“If you look at our daily obituaries, there’s two or three of us in there every week,” Bishop said. “The monument is a way to get around this whole idea of a ‘Forgotten War.’ If it’s up, if it’s physical, it will be a constant reminder.”
The Korean War, or the Forgotten War as it is sometimes called, was fought from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. Nearly 37,000 Americans died during the war — 31 of those dead were Washington County residents.
North and South Korea remain divided today.
Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.
How to donate:
Those wishing to donate may make checks payable to Antietam Chapter 312. Write “Monument Fund” on the memo line.
Send checks to Charles Mobley, 11814 Linbar Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21742-4410.