Cold War Memorials, Medals & Museums

By Kolb, Richard K. | VFW Magazine, May 1998 | Go to article overview
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Cold War Memorials, Medals & Museums


Kolb, Richard K., VFW Magazine


Forgotten in the sweep of international events since 1991, the Cold lz\tar and the U.S.' victory in it have gone unrecognized far too long. But now a movement is beginning to emerge to rectify the historical injustice dealt the GIs who served.

We've all heard it before-the Cold War was won without the loss of a life or even firing a shot. But nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of American graves can attest to the deadliness of the crusade against Soviet communism.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer, in his essay "The End of Heroism," wrote of the Cold War: "Our war, the war we hardly recognize, was the long twilight struggle that ended as no other great war in history-with utter silence."

After all, some say, Russia is now our ally. (So is Germany, but who would dare deny veterans of WWII their rightful place in history.) More important, though, are the revisionists who have a vested interest in relegating the Cold War to history's dustbin to the detriment of those who won it.

Victorious GIs were denied glaring bands, ticker tape parades and laudatory speeches. As VFW member Robert A. Augelli said: "Cold War duty overseas had its demands and those who faced the Soviets and other Communist forces eyeball-to-eyeball for all those many years certainly deserve some recognition."

Recognition, however, will not come in the form of a medal. Only a "certificate of recognition" has been begrudgingly granted. Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) pushed this measure through last Veterans Day as House Con. Res. 64. Details on issuance of the certificates are reportedly being worked out.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION DUE

In championing a memorial, including a hall of the fallen, Krauthammer said of the Cold War: "It was real and dangerous. Though often clandestine and subtle, it ranged worldwide, cost many lives, evoked much heroism and lasted what seemed like forever." Many veterans would certainly agree.

Among the first to call for remembrance was Zalmay Khalizad, a strategist at RAND, who wrote in the Washington Times: "First, a Cold War museum should be established to provide evidence of the sacrifices made by Americans. Second, a day should be designated to annually memorialize the Cold War and our victory over Soviet communism."

So far, only small-scale memorials to various Cold War operations exist. Perhaps the first was the memorial "to the martyrs" in Miami, established by the Bay of Pigs Combatants Association-veterans of Cuban exile Brigade 2506. And Taiwan dedicated a memorial to an American officer killed in a Red Chinese shelling on Quemoy in 1954.

The Strategic Air Command memorial and chapel plaque at the SAC Musuem near Omaha, Neb.

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