Korean War vets honored at Omaha’s 7th annual Veterans Shine On event

An event Thursday at Memorial Park in Omaha honored Korean War veterans and kicked off Veterans Day commemorations.

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The Korean Ladies Choir performs “Arirang” at Memorial Park during the Veterans Shine On ceremony Thursday.

Sandra Lim, the Omaha-born wife of South Korean war hero Sun-Ha Lim, had the honor of turning on the lights at Omaha’s seventh annual Veterans Shine On event.

Sun-Ha was a South Korean major general who died at age 95 in 2018. He began the war as a 27-year-old aide to U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and ended the war three years later as the commander of a South Korean army division along the 38th Parallel.

Before the red, white and blue lights were flipped on, the evening included a performance of “Arirang” by the Korean Ladies Choir, a three-volley gun salute and a laying of the wreaths ceremony. The city of Omaha’s Parks and Recreation director, Matthew Kalcevich, also read a proclamation signed by Mayor Jean Stothert marking the date as Veterans Shine On Day.

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Other special guests at the event included Don Kane, a Purple Heart recipient from the Korean War, and the family of Sgt. 1st Class James Lee Dorrance, who died in a prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War in March 1951 and was returned to Omaha in October 2023.

Wendy Adelson, the Gold Star Mother of Cpl. Daegan Page, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in August 2021, was also in attendance.

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen; Omaha physician Dr. Carolyn Manhart; Junghan Kim, the consulate general for the Republic of Korea in Chicago; and Rep. Don Bacon’s chief of staff, James Wright, spoke during the event.


South Korean Consul General of Chicago Junghan Kim speaks during Omaha’s seventh annual Veterans Shine On ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.

Manhart shared her experiences as a first-generation Korean American whose parents were refugees in the Korean War. Manhart also reflected on her experience accompanying an honor flight of Nebraska Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., in 2014.

“One generation later, it seems almost miraculous that here I am, a physician in Nebraska,” she said. “(Able) to serve this community because of the sacrifices of the Korean War veterans,” she said.

Wright read a letter from Bacon that thanked the veterans present at the event for serving their country.

“I thank you for your selfless service and the personal sacrifices you and your families made on behalf of those you love, those you pass on the street and those you have never met,” he read.

Festersen said the event provided an opportunity to honor local veterans and the purpose behind Memorial Park.

“This is all about the veterans and the families that are here today, and, in particular, the Korean War veterans in our community,” he said.