In Asia South Korea was invaded by Communist forces on June 25, 1950. Americans along with other nations were called upon to save a nation that they never learned about in school much less locate on a map. The Communists failed in their goal. Many from this county served in this three year conflict and those that lost their lives are honored on special memorials at the Appanoose County Courthouse. The stories of each of these individuals are very special. During our research for the memorial plaques we came to appreciate what they must have gone through to serve our country and to help their buddies. The infantry men, a pilot, the combat medics, the combat engineer- each had a story of courage.
After the Korean War the tensions increased throughout the globe. The period known as the Cold War continued. The Berlin Crisis of August-October 1961, which resulted in a wall with obstacles and guards who would shoot to kill, kept East Berliners from their families in the West. Our limited forces were present to deter a Communist takeover of the Western zone. U.S Patton tanks faced off against Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie ready to defend the people of Berlin against overwhelming Soviet Forces. Later Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was the direct result of Soviet threats to launch missiles 90 miles from our coasts. Many citizen soldiers from the National Guard and Reserves were called up by President John Kennedy to protect our country during these two events. My father along with many others was called to duty at this important time. America’s role during this period of time was vitally important.
Perhaps America’s greatest day during this period of time occurred in June of 1963 when over half a million Berliners listened to President Kennedy’s Ich bin ein Berliner speech. The greeting was incredible. America and its leader were truly loved in Europe. In 1978 as a young 2nd Lieutenant I had the honor of traveling to West Berlin on a special troop train through occupied East Germany to see where President Kennedy spoke and to see the Berlin Wall. Later, during a visit to West Berlin, President Ronald Reagan challenged the Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”. Down it came in 1989 when Berliners took it down with sledgehammers.