St Pauls United Church-Veterans

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St Pauls United Church-Veterans

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Vincent Courtenay, president of the Korean War Commemoration Council of Canada makes a report and voices tribute to Fallen Comrades and to all Veterans who served in Korea. Courtenay worked in arranging the ceremony details and coordinating the assembly of the Guard of Honour and participation by the bereaved family members from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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Turn Toward Busan Commemorative Ceremony of Thanks and Remembrance for the United Nations Fallen

The November 11 ceremony at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan was a spectacular success, with more than 600 dignitaries and 40 bereaved family members paying respects to United Nations Fallen.

A Guard of Honour drawn from Veterans from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States escorted three bereaved family members from Australia, 18 from Canada and 15 from the United Kingdom.

Pipe Major Jack Coghill from Canada pipes Guard of Honour on parade to salute bereaved family members as they depart their hotel in Seoul to begin a two-day tour of Korea en route to the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan. The Guard of Honour did not accompany them on the tour but went separately to Busan and met them two days later when they arrived. Not well seen at far left is Guard Commander Frank Fallows of England.

Veterans Guard of Honour from five nations salute bereaved family members as they arrive and pass through the gates of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan.

The Turn Toward Busan Commemorative Ceremony of Thanks and Remembrance for the United Nations Fallen was a national ceremony held by the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA), with full national honours. A wreath was placed for the President of Korea and vice-minister Lee Song-sung placed floral tribute for the MPVA, followed by 15 national figures.

Representatives of the bereaved family members and the Guard of Honour placed wreaths for their nations.

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Official party included (left to right)Vincent Courtenay and his wife Mak-ye Chong, Bill Hurst from Manchester, England, Frank Tyson from USA, Walter “Doug” McConachie from New Zealand, Brian Price from Australia and Peter Remdenok from Canada. The officer at extreme left is the commandant of the ROK Army Division that is based in Busan.

Vice-minister Lee paid tribute to the Fallen of all nations and to all Veterans who had served in Korea during the Korean War.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands also made a presentation pn behalf of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery Commission.

Crowd of 600 participated in the hour-long ceremony at the UN Memorial Cemetery. After the ceremony Vice-Minister Lee Song-sung of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs hosted a commemoration luncheon service for bereaved family members at the upscale Westin Chosun Beach hotel.

Vincent Courtenay, president of the Korean War Commemoration Council made a presentation that focused on the progress of the Turn Toward Busan movement since it was launched in 2008. Before the presentations were made a 50-man ROK Army Honour Guard fired a salute by rifle to all United Nations Fallen and a two-minute silence was held promptly at 11 am.

Guard of Honour Frank Tyson of the United States places floral tribute on altar following two minutes of silence for United Nations Fallen. Large floral tribute of white flowers was placed for the President of the Republic of Korea.

Australian Veteran Tom Parkinson salutes after placing floral tribute on altar in United Nations Cemetery. Waiting to place flowers on behalf of his country is Veteran Peter Remdenok of Canada.

That had been preceded by the Korean National Anthem with music by the ROK Army Band and all present then sang the Korean National Anthem.

After wreaths were placed and presentations given the Suk-po Elementary School Choir, now nationally famous for their role at the UN Cemetery, sang a Hymn to the United Nations Fallen: We see your kind faces in every calm morning that blesses our land.

Veteran Peter Remdenok places floral tribute on Altar on behalf of Canada.

The bereaved family members had arrived three hours before the ceremony so that they would have adequate time to visit and worship at the graves of loved ones.

The crisp November morning whispered with weeping voices; even hardened Veterans choked on their tears.

Mrs. Jill Talty places flower on grave marker of Fallen Australian soldier. She wears the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Force Cross and war medals of her father, who flew with the Royal Australian Air Force and was shot down over North Korea and has no known grave. Her father is commemorated on the Commonwealth Monument to Those With No Known Graves. Jill and her husband, Tim Talty accompanied Jill's mother, Yvonne Lawrenson to see her husband's name on the monument and remember the young flyer who fell so many years ago.

Yes, for virtually all it was the first visit to the graves and the hurt of more than half a century spilled forth into the brilliant blue skied day.

The wife of Vincent Courtenay, Mak-ye Chong, wept often as she spoke with and comforted family members.

An expression made by many was unexpected rejoice that the graves of their loved ones were so well maintained and that the Korean People truly watch over them and remember their great sacrifice.

“We were so very young,” Courtenay expressed when he made his presentation. “We were here from more than 20 nations to assist this fledgling Republic and we rallied together and rejoiced to be among such valiant men.

“We have never been able to be together since and surely not with our Fallen Comrades, but on this November 11 as Veterans from all over the world turn toward Busan in tribute to their Fallen Comrades, we are together again spiritually during the universal two minutes of silence and we are together again with those brave sons who fell.”

Honour Guard Brian Price of Australia, burns incense at shrine at the National Cemetery accompanied by (right) Peter Seiersen of Canada and Thomas Fitzpatrick of the United States. The Guard of Honour, under command of Frank Fallows of England, paid respects to Korea's Fallen at the cemetery before traveling on to Busan.

Mrs. Yvonne Lawrenson of Australia, accompanying the Guard of Honour on their sojourn, was also given the honour of burning incense at the national shrine. Mrs. Lawrenson later visited the Commonwealth memorial wall in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, where her husband's name is listed.

The Guard, under command of Fallows and piped by 83-year old pipe major Jack Coghill from Ottawa, passes through Guards of honour from the Korean Military Academy to reach the national shrine.

Courtenay told those gathered for the ceremony that at that very moment the Korea War Veterans Association of Canada's National Capital Unit was holding a service and that their eyes were turned toward Busan.

He said the Veterans in Ottawa had held two minutes of silence precisely at 9 pm Canadian time (which was November 10) coinciding exactly with the 11 am observance of silence there in the UN Cemetery.

Courtenay also said that when the sun rose over England a few hours hence Veterans all over that country would be donning their blazers and pinning on their medals.

Some would turn toward Busan from the cities and towns where they lived and 4,000 would do so from Trafalgar Square in London.

The Veterans have been placed for many years now along a plot line that leads to Korea. There are some 300 Korean War Veterans among them who make the Turn Toward Busan tribute to their fallen comrades.

The ceremony at Busan was covered by all four Korean television networks and nationally telecast.

It was reported in many major daily newspapers the next morning.

The beautiful children of the Suk-po Elementary School Choir play their kayagum instruments and sing a hymn of remembrance to United Nations Fallen to the tune of the thousand year-old folk song, Arirang. Their freedom and their kind hearts are the reward for all who served in Korea. So good to see children well and cared for, in contrast to the terrible suffering of to many hundreds of thousands during the war years. They sing, “We will never forget you, you came to help us from so many far lands, our hearts will always weep for those who fell, we will see your brave faces all shining so sweetly, in every calm morning that blesses our land.”

  • © St. Pauls United Church 2014

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