One of the extraordinary things about war is that it can stir up a great desire for people to serve their country in the Armed Forces. In the modern era, the United States saw an increase in enlistment following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
History is replete with examples of brave souls who left their lives behind to join a branch of the military, often times leaving school or even lying about their age so they could help defend the United States during her time of need. Whether drafted or enlisted the sacrifices made by veterans have left an indelible mark upon our great nation. The service of Senator Mike Fasano’s father during the Second World War, and my father’s service during Korea, helped shape our own respect for those who put their lives on the line.
Sandwiched in history between the rebuilding that followed the Allied victories in Europe and the Pacific during the global nightmare that was the Second World War, and the seemingly endless years of Vietnam, was the Korean War.
Korea came all too soon upon a war-weary world still reeling from the multi-front war that divided and then united much of the world against a common enemy. This time in history produced its own list of heroes whose names most of us will sadly never know or remember. However, the sacrifices of those who were called into service during this time are just as important as those who served at any other time in our nation’s history. 33,686 service members were killed in action and over 8,000 more went missing.
The Korean War officially began on June 25, 1950 and ended 59 years ago on July 27, 1953. Following the armistice agreement, United States troops continued to protect the demilitarized zones between North Korea and South Korea.
For service members to receive wartime service benefits they must have served during the federally defined Korean War era. This definition was mirrored in state law.
From 2002 until 2004, Florida’s commissioner of education was authorized to award a high school diploma to honorably discharged service members who left high school to serve in Korea as long as they were scheduled to graduate between 1950 and 1954 and were inducted between June 1950 and January 1954.
During the 2004 legislative session, Senator Mike Fasano filed legislation that expanded by one year on both the front and the back end to allow more Korean War veterans to receive their high school diploma. Signed into law on May 25, 2004 the new law allowed veterans scheduled to graduate between 1949 and 1955, and inducted into the Armed Forces between June 1949 and January 1955 to be awarded a high school diploma.
This benefit is listed as one of the many ways in which veterans in Florida can receive a little something back from their state. On websites and in publications listing benefits available to veterans the high school diploma for Korean War-era vets is listed. What is not listed is the story of why this benefit was created. As the 59th anniversary of the armistice passes the reason is simple: those who gave so much to keep our nation, and people who live on the other side of the world, free from tyranny and oppression deserve it. Plain and simple.
I welcome your questions about the legislative process, state government or any related matters. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post. If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well. I look forward to responding to your comments!