Good to see renewed support for veterans on Beacon Hill
Massachusetts has not had a military veteran serve as governor in more than 30 years.
That last veteran to serve as governor was U.S. Army veteran Michael S. Dukakis (19551957) who served as an enlisted man in Korea after the Korean War ended in 1953. He left the governor’s office in 1990.
So it is of interest that Gov. Maura Healey, a nonveteran and a progressive, would take an interest in the well-being of Massachusetts men and women who served their country.
Progressives as a rule tend to shun all things military.
Dukakis, 89, who enlisted following graduation from Swarthmore College, was a 21-year-old radio operator on the DMZ, the armistice line that still separates the two Koreas.
The Korean war, often referred to as “The Forgotten War”—lodged as it was between World War II and Vietnam— began on June 25, 1950, when the Communist North Korea, later abetted by Communist China, invaded South Korea, then a fledgling democracy and a U.S. ally and protectorate.
It ended back where it began on the 38th parallel (the DMZ) that separated the two Koreas, on July 27, 1953, when the warring parties signed an armistice, which is still in effect.
A total of 33,686 Americans were killed in action, and thousands more wounded during the short but intensive three years period.
This compares to the 47,434 Americans killed in action in Vietnam, a war that lasted three times as long.
Like many wars before, memories of the Korean War are beginning to fade as the men who fought there are aging out and taking their memories with them, just as their older brothers who fought in World War II have done.
For instance, both World War II veterans former Massachusetts Attorney General Frank Bellotti (U.S. Navy) and former U. S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (U.S. Army) recently observed their 100th birthdays.
Their ranks are thinning.
The ranks are also thinning for Korean War veterans as well. They are being replaced by veterans of Iraq, the long war in Afghanistan, and unsung battles in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
Still, it came as something of a surprise to learn around Memorial Day that the Korean War Veterans Association, once a vigorous entity, will be disbanded and its offices on the fifth floor at the Massachusetts State House shut down.
The notice came in “The Morning Calm,” the KWVA’s thinned out quarterly publication whose title is from Korea’s misleading nickname as “The Land of the Morning Calm.”
While the few remaining members can join other KWVA chapters—if they are not shutting down too— things for the Korean War vets will not be the same.
Ironically, the demise of the KWVA comes at a time when Gov. Healey has beefed up support for veterans..
Healey, in a Memorial Day executive order, reinvigorated former Gov. Charlie Baker’s Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services and named former state Rep. Jon Santiago to head it.
She also, naturally, made sure that the 12-member council will be woke and that the makeup represents “diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, and economic status.”
Healey earlier showed her commitment to veterans by naming Santiago as the state’s first cabinetlevel secretary of the Executive Office of Veteran’s Services, an office and position that was created in 2022 following the deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers Home during the COVID pandemic.
Santiago, a physician, worked in the emergency room at Boston Medical Center during the COVID crisis. He is also a major in the U.S. Army Reserve with two overseas deployments.
Healey said of Santiago: “His public health experience and military service” made him “uniquely qualified” for the position.
While we are not sure which building Santiago will work out of, the KWVA office in Room 546-4 of the State House will soon be available.
The KWVA would proudly turn their flag over to him.
Hail and farewell.