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Wreath laid to say 'Thanks' and promote Korean peace

Korean-American activist Hannah Y Kim is on an ambitious three-month journey visiting Korean War memorials in all 50 states.

PHOENIX - Hannah Y Kim is a woman on mission. And the Los Angeles native of Korean descent plans on making her way through all 50 states for her latest project. On Monday, May 21, she made her way through state No. 13 -- Arizona, on her way to the capitol grounds near Downtown Phoenix.

Her passion for the past 10 years has been her unwavering pride in the home of her ancestors, and the pride in the men and women of the allied countries who fought side-by-side to defend it when political forces tried to tear it apart.

From 1950 to 1953, Kim's countrymen, along with thousands of U.S. servicemen, fought Communist forces to a stalemate. The Korean War claimed the lives of 36,000 American troops and wounded over 100,000. Despite these significant losses, the Korean War is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War,” but it is anything but forgotten for those who served and their families.

Kim's focus over the years is to see that Korean War veterans get the recognition they richly deserve -- and that they will NOT be forgotten.

In 2008, when she was a 24-year-old graduate student in Washington, D.C., she established Remember727, an organization dedicated to honoring veterans of the so-called "Forgotten War." Hannah lobbied Congress to enact legislation, signed by President Obama in 2009, that established July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

For her latest effort, Kim is visiting Korean War Memorials in all 50 states, in 70 cities, over the next three months. She has been with veterans and offering a simple, heart-felt message -- one all Americans can give to those Korean War vets in their community: Thank You!

At a wreath laying ceremony at the Korean War Memorial at Wesley Bolin Park, Kim spoke with profound gratitude to a small group of Korean War veterans about why she is making the cross-country journey.

"They're not getting any younger," Kim said. "I just have to go and say, 'Thank You,'" she added.

She said if it wasn't for the sacrifices the Korean War vets made over sixty years ago, she would not have achieved the success she did as a Congressional aide for former Congressman Charles Rangel.

Kim concluded her presentation with one more personal touch: a gift of a red, white and blue, heart-shaped pin and a big hug for each of her new "Honorary Grandpas."

"The public doesn't have to travel to 50 states like I am. They don't have to travel 15,000 miles like I am," Kim said. "They could just say 'thank you' to those that they meet, and come to this kind of memorial. Sit down and just say a little prayer," she concluded.

The goal of this journey is to raise awareness and funds to help build a Wall of Remembrance at the National Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Over 280 Arizonans are part of the group whose names will be added to the Wall of Remembrance when it is finally built.

To donate to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation: Remember 727

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