The sound of flags flapping in the wind filled the air Saturday afternoon at Concordia Gardens Cemetery as Fort Wayne’s Korean War Memorial was welcomed to its new home.
"Many years ago, our veterans from Chapter One of the Korean War Veterans Association of Fort Wayne, Indiana, decided to erect a memorial to those who served in the Korean War and the more than 50,000 lives that were lost," said Marilyn Renbarger, the association’s chaplain. "It was not an easy task. It took a lot of work, but that memorial was completed, and it sat in another location for many years."
The monument was moved from its previous home on O’Day Road – where it stood since 1995 – to Concordia Gardens Cemetery because of a lack of visitors, as well as concerns over the deterioration of a walkway of memorial bricks engraved with the names of fallen Korean War soldiers. The names on those bricks were ultimately preserved on five granite tablets at the newly dedicated shrine.
"(The veterans) wanted it in a place that they knew perpetual care would be taken to it and it was going to be taken care of forever," said Don Remenschneider, superintendent of Concordia Gardens Cemetery. "We’re in the business of memorialization, so it made good sense to move it here."
Since the monument was moved, Remenschneider said he’s been amazed by the attention it has received.
"People come in off the road and park here, and they love to come and see the names, and I think we’re going to be adding a lot of names," he said. "It’s one-of-a-kind as far as in any of the cemeteries."
Construction of the new monument took only a few months, but the planning process – especially alphabetizing and checking more than 2,000 memorialized names – took nearly three years, Remenschneider said. The effort culminated in Saturday’s dedication.
Bernard "Ski" Wisniewski, former commander of the Korean War Veterans Association Indiana Chapter One, discussed his service and how being deployed to Korea changed him. Wisniewski joined the Navy Reserves at 17 and was deployed to Korea shortly after.
"I wasn’t very happy being called into the service like that. I didn’t know where Korea was, and I didn’t know the Korean people," he said. "But as time went on … I got to know the Korean people, and that’s when my attitude changed."
Wisniewski said he was impressed by the speed and quality of the construction at Concordia Gardens Cemetery.
"I’m really proud to be past commander of the Korean Veterans Association, very proud," he said. "It’s here for eternity."
As the sound of taps and the echo of a gun salute faded away across peaceful fields covered with memorial headstones, Fort Wayne’s Korean War Memorial, along with the names of 2,400 Korean War veterans, was rededicated at the site where it will stand for the rest of time.