Retired local psychiatrist Jay Har has been to Washington, D.C. to see the Korean War memorial before, but he’ll be back in the nation’s capital this month to see all the monuments dedicated to American veterans on the Richland County’s Third Bus of Honor trip.
Sixty veterans will see the monuments built in their honor.
Harr said that surviving any difficult time, including war, is a formidable experience and task.
“It is not just a relief that you have survived, but a lifelong labor including all the sad memories and aches and pains that often last forever. Wars are so devastating to all people and the earth. Survivors often experience guilt that so many others have not,” He said.
Har, now 82, was 10 years old and living with his family in Seoul, South Korea, when North Korea bombed South Korea on June 25, 1950.
Grateful to the United States for helping his country of origin
He was only happy that he survived. In an interview with News Journal, Har shared his gratitude for the United States coming to save his country. During the war in Vietnam, he served in a medical unit in the Republic of Korea operating in field hospitals in Nhatrang and Saigon, from 1969 to 1972, after medical school. He served another two years in public health. He also served in the Vietnam War with American forces for a year and two months as a quarantine officer.
“But I soon realized that life was not what it used to be. On the first day at school when Seoul, the capital, was restored, we cried all day because many of my classmates had no fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters. The teacher tried to console us but failed. She cried too.”
“My wife and I go back to many memorials including the Korean War. Korean War statistics show 2 to 3 million civilian deaths — South Korea dead: 991,000 and North Koreans: 1,550,000; including 171,000 dead from American and Allied forces and 566,000 wounded, Harr said, “The numbers are numbers, but the memories of all the aches and pains are incalculable.”
A few years after the pandemic was halted by the pandemic, Richland County is sending its third honor bus to Washington on September 9-11. About 32 veterans and wives/carers will see all the memorials such as World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials; Lincoln Memorial. Arlington National Cemetery; The Flight 93 memorial, and tour the White House, according to Ken Estip, director of the Richland County Veterans Services Commission.
Estep said veteran Dean Krance had the idea to start these bus trips and is really happy that the trips have worked for so many Richland County veterans.
Why do veterans want to go there?
There are names on the walls and the memorial evokes the memories of those who did not survive. Harr said healing is an inevitable process in life after any disaster or loss. As a retired psychiatrist, he said he knows more about this very valuable healing process. He said PTSD in many forms needs to be cured or mitigated if possible.
Veterans of all wars are united in this effort with all the festivities, parades, meetings, and many activities. Veterans gather monthly and go to flag ceremonies. It is so good and wonderful that the survivors come together and continue all efforts.
“We honor you is the second best thing we can do after we have survived wars,” he said.
Harr said 1,822 young Ohioans did not return from the Korean War.
“Freedom is never free”
“They paid the ultimate price. Freedom is not free. Freedom is never free. At Arlington National Cemetery we will participate in a wreath display and pay tribute to all the memorials we visit.”
“This may be a mystery to many but in psychiatry we find that this is not just healing but very therapeutic. I have helped many including myself by going back there to see what is left or what can be done. Some people will never talk about it or go back there. For many different reasons. There is a lady who was abandoned by her mother at a young age who never wanted to go back to the home where she was born. We don’t force anyone to go back there especially if they are not emotionally ready.”
“When I finally decided to visit the place, I advised her to go with one of them. I was afraid she would collapse. Her husband went reluctantly. What I found immediately was that her mother was forced to abandon her due to poverty and unable to raise her, she met the neighbors and learned all about her mother who died in agony She went to her cemetery and was able to forgive her and she was forgiven too, and her husband was also able to forgive them all.
“Not everyone can do it. But when you’re ready, you can do it. Many people don’t like visiting cemeteries, funeral homes, churches, hospitals, or nursing homes because of certain fears, prejudice, or beliefs. I think more and more people are doing it,” Harr said: “Continue with unresolved feelings.”
“Personally, I am grateful to all those who died and I can pray for them and their loved ones. I was 10 years old then but I knew we were going to lose our country very quickly. Without these guys, I wouldn’t be here.”
Har is an associate member and this year’s secretary of the Korean War Veterans Association.