Bongwon Monks from Korea hold solemn ceremony in Toronto on November 11 Remembrance Day, dedicated to Canadians who fell in the Korean War
Monks from the Bongwon Temple of Seoul gather at the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance in Brampton, Ontario as part of a November 11 Remembrance Day service. The service is traditionally held by members of Unit 22 of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada. Earlier the Monks had said prayers for the repose of Canadians who fell during the Korean War. In the center is Korean Consul General Hong,
Ji-in. Behind the Monks are 30 members of the Republic of Korea’s Korean Veterans Association Canada East. The November 11 service is held each year at the Wall by the president and members of KVA Canada Unit 23, Peel Region. After the Wall was first dedicated in 1997, no plan was made to hold a Remembrance Day service. However, a large group of school children from the region showed up at the Wall and were surprised that a service was not being held. The Korea Veterans have held a service there every year since. The Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance is designated as the official Canadian Korean War Memorial.
Canada’s Korean War Fallen assuredly were not forgotten on the November 11 Remembrance Day – not in any part of Canada, and not in Korea where they fell.
On the evening of November 10, Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson joined with the Korea Veterans Association of Canada national president Terry Wickens to hold the national Turn Toward Busan tribute ceremony in Canada’s capital of Ottawa.
An honoured participant was Korea’s Ambassador to Canada Ha Chan-ho. Other notables participating in the service included Lt. General Charles Belzile, honourary grand president of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Legion’s Dominion President, Wilf Edmund and Dominion Secretary, Lieutenant Colonel Brad White. Executive in charge and emcee for the service was Lieutenant Commander (Ret’d) Bill Black, president of the KVA Canada National Capital Unit.
At the same time, in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea, where it was November 11, flowers were placed by Veterans at the Monument to Canadian Fallen, the Commonwealth Monument to Those With No Known Graves and the United Nations Wall of Remembrance.
Flowers were also placed on some of the Canadian graves, including the grave of Soldat Andre Regimbald and that of Private Kenneth Norton.
Visits were paid to many of the Canadian graves by a Veteran who served at the front with them.
In Courtenay, British Columbia, Unit 39 of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada held a November 10 evening Turn Toward Busan service.
Also on the night of November 10, the City of Kamploops, British Columbia hosted its annual Remembrance Day dinner for the Number 419 City of Kamloops/Moose Tactical Fighter Training Squadron from Cold Lake, Alberta. They, too, turned to face Busan in tribute to Canada’s Korean War Fallen.
On the morning of November 11 in Ottawa, the National Capital Unit of the Korea Veterans Association held a service at the Monument to Canadian Fallen, before proceeding to the national service held at the National War memorial.
All across Canada, from Glace Bay and Halifax in Nova Scotia, to Courtenay on Vancouver Island, off Canada’s West Coast, Veterans and communities held Turn Toward Busan services as part of the traditional Remembrance Day ceremonies.
The presence of the Monks at the Wall in the morning presaged their reason for being in Canada - to perform their traditional Yeongsanjae ceremony at a Veterans Remembrance Day ceremony in Toronto.
The ceremony was arranged by Miss Mi Young Kim, famed Korean traditional dancer and president of the Korea Dance Studies Society of Canada. Miss Kim, daughter of a master of the art, had performed as a child during the Korean War for Korean and allied troops. She had performed for President Syngman Rhee and General Mathew Ridgway.
Honourary KVA Canada Member Hoo-Jung Jones of KVA Canada Unit 26 in Hamilton, Ontario, arranged to bring many Veterans to the ceremony. Wesley Beetham, Unit 26 president, proudly led them and was presented with a commemorative bell from Senior Monk Ma Il-woon, who headed his group from the Bongwon Temple.
All Veterans present were feted to a VIP dinner with the Monks prior to the ceremony. They feasted on beef bulgogi and other traditional Korean foods.
A very difficult photograph to take with strong overhead lighting that focuses behind them and ambient light in front. The Monks and the Mee Young Kim Dancers stand behind the Veterans on stage left (right side of photo). The Veterans received a standing ovation when they were called forward to the stage before the Bongwon Temple Monks began performing their traditional Yeongsanjae ceremony. It is a very rare, solemn service involving dance, cymbals and drums, rarely seen even in Korea. The ceremony seeks to bring peace to those who have departed and unite their spirits with the living, while providing the living with a path to enlightenment. The two-hour ceremony also had performances by dancers of the Mi Young Kim Dance Company interspersed at appropriate intervals. Most of the Veterans shown belong to KVA Canada Unit 26, from Hamilton, Ontario. At far right is Honourary Member Hoo-Jung Jones, who arranged to bring the Veterans from Hamilton. She is the associate webmaster for the KVA Canada website. Note lady who is second from left, Mildred Timbers from Royal Canadian Legion Colonel John McCrae Memorial Branch 234 in Guelph, Ontario. In the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea, on November 11, a bouquet of roses was placed for her on the grave of her brother, Kenneth Wellington Norton, who fell in battle in Korea within a week of disembarking from his ship and on his first day of action on Hill 159 on November 5, 1951.
Mi Young Kim, president of the Korea Dance Studies Society of Canada and artistic director of the Mi Young Kim Dance Company, speaks to audience with Chief Monk Ma Il-woon (to her right) and two senior Monks from the Bongwon Temple.
So who says the Korean War and those who fought in it are forgotten?
Links to Veterans Association websites
Above article provided courtesy of the Korean War Veteran, firstname.lastname@example.org