Thursday, November 11, 2021

Photo of the Day: Korean War Memorial, Westfield, NJ

In October, while I was down in Westfield, NJ for the afternoon, my eye was drawn to a hillside near the traffic circle, where this railroad suburb has chosen to honor onetime residents in several American military conflicts: the Spanish-American War, World War II and Korea.

I think it might be worthwhile to highlight, in this brief description and the photo I took that day, the last of these, America’s so-called “Forgotten War, and the local servicemen who, as Abraham Lincoln put it at Gettysburg, gave “the last full measure of devotion” to duty, their comrades and country.

Westfield’s Korean War Memorial, dedicated in 2004, was created by a then-17-year-old high school senior, Kevin Devaney. The granite piece drew my eye not for its size but for its design: a cutout of Korea, a peninsula where, over three years, 6.8 million American men and women served. Approximately 54,200 of them died, with 33,700 of these occurring during combat.

The memorial honors three men who died within three months of each other:

* Charles A. Lipphardt, an army first lieutenant who, after serving in the South Pacific in WWII, returned to active duty in September 1950. Lipphardt, who died in February 1951, was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean War Service Medal.

* Richard R. Wilson, an army private first class, was listed as missing in action in January 1951.

* Griswold M. Hill Jr., a marine private first class, lost his life in March 1951.

Ranging in age from 24 to 30, this trio never had the chance for a normal life span. For many passersby in this busy downtown 70 years later, they might be merely names on a tablet. But they meant far more to their families and this community for years, and their sacrifice is worth recalling and honoring.

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