I’ve often heard the word, “Legacy” used in reference to the aftermath of the Korean War. There are family
legacies, individual legacies, organizational legacies and on and on. One of the stated objectives of KWVA
is to “Perpetuate our Legacy.” One of the ways we do that is through our “Tell America Program.” But, our
numbers to carry out this mission are declining. We are losing more members than we gain. That trend gets
steeper as the years pass.
Some chapters have turned in their charters for lack of members or at least members who are willing to
serve as officers. The obvious and inevitable outcome of this trend is the eventual demise of KWVA as we
Recruitment of War and Defense veterans has been emphasized over and over since I’ve been involved in
KWVA. Unfortunately, we haven’t reversed or even slowed our declining membership trend. As the saying goes,
“Don’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.”
There are those who maintain that is as it should be. They reason that there are no Civil War or WWI
associations left, and none, or very few, WWII associations exist. It is inevitable that the KWVA should
also just fade away. I disagree and hope that there are many others who share my opinion.
This begs the question of what to do to maintain and grow the KWVA so our existence will be assured into
the future and members will continue to “Perpetuate the Legacy.” First, all of us need to continue being
proactive with our efforts to recruit new members, including War and Defense veterans and KATUSAs, who are
now eligible due to our recent by-laws change.
Over and above I’ve asked our by-laws Chairman, Narce Caliva, to prepare a bylaws revision that would
allow direct descendants of War/Defense veterans’ eligibility for Regular Membership. Radical? Maybe. But
there are a lot of our offspring, especially first and second generation, who show genuine interest in and
are appreciative of what their dads and granddads (in some cases, mothers and grandmothers) did and are
still doing in Korea. They are searching for ways to “Perpetuate the Legacy!”
Therefore, I am recommending that we open our membership doors to these wellintentioned, patriotic, energetic,
and vibrant individuals to become regular members of the KWVA.
The Graybeards magazine has a section called, “Feedback/Return Fire.” I’d really like to get your
opinion of this recommended by-law revision. The Board will be discussing and voting on this proposed revision
in June. Let them know how you feel about revising our eligibility requirements for regular membership in
KWVA to include direct descendants.
Another departure from the past that will be considered by the Board in June is how to use electronic
media to reach a younger generation of potential members. Our Membership Chairman, David Clark, has found
and is continuing to seek vendors who can help us move electronically into the 21st century. Hand in hand
with that is a proposed redesign of the KWVA website.
I’ve heard it said that the KWVA website is too busy, making it hard to find a specific subject for which
the user may be searching. At this time, two competing proposals will be presented, discussed, and voted
on. The Board will listen, ask questions, discuss, and vote for one. I would be remiss if I did not inform
you upfront that these proposals carry a significant price tag. As Yogi Berra allegedly said, “When you
come to a fork in the road, take it.” That is exactly what I hope we do. We’ll find the money.
This is one other step we need to take to enhance our membership. To do otherwise will result in KWVA
going the route of the proverbial old soldier and just fade away. Our legacy is too important to let that
happen without being innovative and finding creative ways to make a course correction. Let us not join the
dinosaurs. On this idea, too, I’d like your feedback.
Lew Ewing intends to step down from the KWVA Secretary’s position. This is a huge loss! Lew took over
as Secretary from Frank Cohee while Larry Kinard was our President. He had served a three-year term on the
Board, most of which was in the position of By-laws Chairman, before assuming the position of Secretary.
We have been privileged to have Lew as our Secretary. He has done an outstanding job. I relied immensely
on his judgment and exceptional ability to prepare for and keep our Board and Membership meetings running
smoothly and efficiently. Lew leaves huge shoes to be filled. I am appealing to our members to recommend
candidates for KWVA Secretary to replace Lew.
I would appreciate being notified if you know of someone who is qualified and willing to assume this
responsibility. Lew will fulfill the duties of Secretary in preparation for our June Board meeting, but
has indicated that he would like to have his replacement in place in time for the October membership meeting.
By a recent vote of the KWVA Board of Directors, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation was given
the “go ahead” to reach out to our chapters directly for contributions toward making the Wall of Remembrance
(WOR) a reality. This is yet another step in “Perpetuating our Legacy.”
When the WOR is completed and dedicated, literally thousands who visit the Memorial each year will look
upon a visual presentation of those who gave their all in the cause of freedom. The WOR, as you may recall,
will list the names of the 36,574 US soldiers killed in action (KIA) during the Korean War, as well as the
number of casualties of both the UN and Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSAs), those who were prisoners
of war (POW), and those who are missing in action (MIAs).
My chapter, Kansas #181, recently gave $500 toward the WOR. Take a careful look at your chapter’s finances
and make a decision to contribute according to your resources. Be proactive! Don’t wait to be contacted.
I urge each chapter and each KWVA member to consider a donation to the WOR. This is our Memorial; it
should be made as meaningful as possible. The mailing address is KWVM Foundation, 10301 McKinstry Mill Road,
New Windsor, MD 21776-7903. KWVM is a 501c3, nonprofit.
“Life sends us a challenge to test our willingness to change. At such moments, there is no use in pretending
that nothing has happened or in saying we are not ready. The challenge will not wait.” Paulo Coello
Thanks and: VOTE! VOTE!! VOTE!!! VOTE!!!!
Tom Stevens, President
Korean War Veterans Association, Inc. (KWVA/US)