Cold War veterans recognized for their serviceNov 14, 2022 11:26AM ● By Becky Ginos
Steve Greer leads the VFW Post 1695 Honor Guard at the Utah Cold War Victory Medal Pinning Ceremony at Syracuse City Hall. The program recognizes those veterans who served in the Cold War from 1947 – 1991. Photo by Becky Ginos
SYRACUSE—Parades and programs honor veterans on Veterans Day but there is a group of men and women who served but are standing on the sidelines and often overlooked. These veterans are part of the Cold War. The time between 1947 – 1991. A period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc.
“Russia had broken up but we were still in conflict with the Soviet Union,” said Larry Kerr, U.S.A.F Retired and Vice Chairman Board of Directors for the Utah Cold War Veterans Foundation. “We never had an actual war so it became the Cold War. These veterans kept the military at bay. If they hadn’t this wouldn’t be the world we know today.”
Kerr conducted a ceremony Oct. 21 at Syracuse City Hall to honor about 50 veterans with a Utah Cold War Victory Medal and certificate. “The Utah Legislature decided to honor vets with a medal and did a ceremony in 2017 at the Capitol Building,” he said. “They dropped the funding so my wife decided to take it on. We were honoring a lot of vets from Tremonton to Delta and all over. It kept growing so we decided to start a committee.”
The committee members are called the Blue Shirts, said Kerr. “We’re all volunteers. We try to assemble as many vets as we can find. We’ve honored over 917 vets and plan to break 1,000. We’re reaching out as best we can and as fast as we can. Many are passing away.”
The program included a demonstration on the proper way to fold and flag and the significance of each fold. Kerr also explained the meaning behind each item on the Fallen Comrade Table. “It symbolizes those who perished on the battlefield who are missing and have not found their way home,” he said. “The table is set for one for the prisoner who is alone against the oppressor. The white table cloth is for those who responded to the call of arms. The rose symbolizes the blood shed and the family of the fallen or missing that miss them every day. The red ribbon represents a love of country. The lemon stands for the bitter fate of those that were never found. A lighted candle illuminates the way home from their captors. The inverted wine glass means they can’t toast with us. The overturned chair is to remember they are no longer with us.”
Syracuse City has offered City Hall for these programs for the next five years at no cost, said Kerr who presented a plaque to Council Member Seth Teague in appreciation.
“This shows what you mean to us,” said Teague. “My grandpa died in Vietnam. This is a small, small token of our gratitude for the sacrifice you have given.”
The program finished with the pinning of the medals and presentation of the certificates followed by Taps.
“Some of these veterans have never received a medal like this,” said Kerr. They didn’t know it existed. We’ve had young children accept the medal for their father or a grandchild for their grandfather. It makes you cry.”
All medals are paid for by donations. For more information or to make a donation visit victorymedals.org. λ