TRURO – Sitting in their wheeled walkers near the edge of the Salmon River, a couple of old war codgers are in a bit of a cranky mood.
The sun is shining and it’s hot out but it’s not the day’s temperature that has these two steamed.
“Everywhere but Truro remembers the Korean War,” one of the veterans, Curtis Faulkner says emphatically, shaking his hand in air.
“It makes me feel like hell, like we’ve been left out,” he says. “We deserve to be remembered. Not maybe by name but by some kind of a stone or memorial. That’s all I want to see.”
Faulkner recently returned from Brampton Ont., where he participated in a ceremony for Korean War veterans who are further remembered via a stone memorial that has been erected there.
Shortly after coming home, he saw newspaper coverage in Halifax of a similar ceremony and memorial for Korean vets.
Faulkner and Jim Matheson, both 83, were just young men when they fought in the Korean War, which raged from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.
The Korean conflict has long been known as the Forgotten War and the pair say they recall all too well how the were shunned or saw the significance of their contributions downplayed by the veterans of other wars and civilians alike.
“These men died and suffered and laid in mud and everything. And we come home, that man come home 10 feet ahead of me,” Faulkner says, pointing at Matheson, “and there was only about that many people there at the (Truro train) station,” he says, holding up five fingers.
Matheson recalls a chat he had with an acquaintance on the streets of Truro shortly after his return and how the man did not even know a war had been taking place in Korea. And, like Faulkner, he wonders what really has changed.
“It makes a guy feel kind of useless after going through that, coming home and nobody gives a sh**, he says, in a surly tone. “They didn’t even know where we were. One guy asked me on the street here one day right after that, I was in uniform: ‘where have you been, I haven’t seen you?’
“I said ‘I was in Korea.’”
“‘What are you doing over there?’” the man replied.
“’What the hell do you think I was doing?’” Matheson says of his curt response.
“I even got fired out of the legion (at the time) because I was in uniform with my medals on.”
July 27 has been named as Korean War Veterans Day and Faulkner and Matheson say they would simply like to see the people of their home community recognize that as they do in other places.
And they would like to see a small stone or other memorial put in place near the Truro cenotaph declaring it in memory of the Korean War, along with the flags of Canada and South Korea and the dates of the conflict.
“All I want to see is for the people of Truro to wake up and say, ‘hey this has happened,’” Faulkner says.
“I want a separate stone because it was 25,000 boys (who) went across that water. Five hundred and sixty some are still there including our friends that died at Kapyong, just as important as any battle that I have seen on television.”
Faulkner says money is even available through Veterans Affairs Canada to help pay for such a monument but he believes it should be up to the Town of Truro to lead the charge in having such a project fulfilled.
When asked about the issue, Mayor Bill Mills said he is well aware of the men’s concerns. Efforts had been underway by a member of the local historical society to look into the matter but when that person died, he said, the project “got off the rails” and “it hasn’t really been picked up since.”
But Mills said the issue keeps “gnawing at me” and he hopes to see the situation changed.
“Certainly I will be going back to the historical society and if we can find out about the funding before my term is out, I will make sure that we try to get something,” he said. “It’s something that I feel is necessary to resolve before this term is out.”