By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
While cars rushed by on Mahoning Avenue, a group of about 70 took time to honor area men killed in the Korean War.
“Every year, about this time, we want to remember them,” said Zeno Foley, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 137.
Saturday marked the 61st anniversary of the start of the war.
A laying of the roses, sponsored by Chapter 137, took place at the Korean War Memorial in Austintown Veterans Park on Sunday.
Veterans took turns calling the names of the 120 men from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties whose lives were lost in the war. As each was called, a bell was rung and a rose placed on the memorial by a family member or other person.
“This was a terrible, terrible bloody war that lasted over three years,” Foley told the crowd. “Some battles were so fierce that over 700 were killed in one day.”
Between 35,000 and 37,000 American men were killed in combat, some as young as 17, he said.
“The war became known as the forgotten war,” Foley said. “Today, we are here to remember and honor all our veterans, especially those that made the supreme sacrifice for freedom.”
Their names should never be forgotten, he added.
“We also want to remember, thank and honor all the servicemen and women serving all over the world in this war against terrorism,” Foley said.
Sue Wilhelm and her daughter-in-law, Chriss Raschella, both of Austintown, attended the event for the first time.
“My father and brother were veterans, and I just thought I’d come and pay some respect,” Raschella said. “I think it’s important.”
Her brother, Jay Raschella, is a Vietnam veteran, and her father, Frank Raschella, was a World War II veteran.
Wilhelm has attended other laying-of-the-roses ceremonies. Her brother, Dave Lawless, served in the Air Force.
“I’ve been to the laying of the roses downtown several times,” Willhelm said. “I think it’s wonderful that they do that.”
Sandy Blair’s father, Richard Koker, a veteran of the Korean War, participated in the ceremony. He performed the invocation and benediction, as well as acting as sign-language interpreter.
“We drove in this weekend to honor him,” Blair said. “I think it’s terrific. We should have more of it.”
Her husband, Andy Blair, had never attended a laying of the roses, but was glad to be part of it. The couple is from Green, Ohio.
“I think everyone should honor the veterans of every war, and this is a great opportunity to do so,” he said.