Langley high school students pinned poppies on veterans of the Korean War at a ceremony Friday marking 71 years since a pivotal victory for the Canadian Armed Forces.
The memorial was held at the Gapyeong Stone Korean War Memorial in the Township’s Derek Doubleday Arboretum.
“The Korean War is not the forgotten war anymore,” said Taeyoung Kim, 93, vice president of the Korean War Veterans Association.
He was applauded by veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, along with local politicians, dignitaries, members of the Korean-Canadian military, and local students.
The memorial ceremony was the largest since 2019, when the stone was first installed. The last few years of COVID-19 pandemic have kept attendance small.
The event marks the April 22-25 Battle of Kapyong, where Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand troops blocked an advance towards South Korean capital Seoul by a full division of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.
A massive Chinese offensive was headed south with the aim of capturing Seoul, resulting in fierce fighting with Republic of Korea, American, and British troops.
The Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders were part of a reduced brigade of Commonwealth troops that were called up to what is now known as Gapyeong County. The Australians and Canadians took up positions on a pair of hills, with the New Zealand artillery backing them up.
The Australians took the brunt of the fighting on the first day, with the Canadians defending their positions on the second day.
After halting the advance, which outnumbered them by more than five to one, the Commonwealth forces were relieved by a larger American battalion. Seoul was largely out of danger as the advance had been blunted.
A total of 10 Canadians died in the battle, and about 23 were wounded.
Speakers, including Republic of Korea Consul Song Hae-young, local MPs Tako van Popta and John Aldag, MLA Megan Dykeman, and Township Councillor Steve Ferguson, thanked veterans, and asked those present not to forget the bonds formed between South Korea and Canada by the war.
When surviving veterans of the war from both the Korean and Canadian Armed Forces were asked to stand, students from Langley Secondary pinned poppies on their jackets.
The event was organized and MCed by Michael Chang, a local Korean-Canadian businessman who is now raising funds to create a small traditional Korean garden around the stone as part of the memorial, in partnership with the Derek Doubleday Arboretum Society.
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