A recognition certificate from the city reminded a Pacific man of a moment in the life of his father, a Korean War veteran who always questioned the magnitude of the huge number of Chinese casualties in that conflict.
Harry Engelhart, Pacific farmer and auctioneer, built easels for the Meramec Valley History Museum’s veteran posters displayed during the 2012 Independence Day fireworks celebration in the city park July 14.
At the Nov. 20 board of aldermen meeting, the city honored Engelhart for the project.
“It was a simple thing to do,” he said. “I would have done it for any organization that was saluting our veterans.”
It also was easy, he said. As an escape from the extreme July heat, Engelhart took to his cool workshop in the evening to construct the wooden poster stands. He was asked for 26 or 27 and he was so into the project that he constructed a few extra.
Standing in front of city officials and members of the audience made him feel funny he said.
“I’ve never done anything that I’m looking for a thank you,” Engelhart said. “But it does feel good to see that my appreciation for the work of others is appreciated.”
Engelhart related a story about his father to illustrate his value of the framed recognition certificate.
Engelhart never served in the military, but his father Harry Sr. served in the 7th Cavalry, the Army’s most forwardly deployed heavy divisional cavalry squadron in the Korean Conflict, from 1951 until the truce was signed in 1953. He came home and shared with his family stories of a war that he described as “wholesale slaughter,” because the huge Chinese Army helping the Koreans, which was no match for the American guns, just would not give up.
“Dad said there were just so many of them and they just kept coming,” Engelhart said. “The Americans blew 80 feet off the top of that mountain and still they kept coming.”
His father agonized over the loss of so many lives and often questioned his own part in the actions.
There was a Korean man who Engelhart remembered as Mr. Chu, who had immigrated to America and bought property near the Engelhart farm. He often came there to buy produce.
“Sometimes Dad and I would come up out of the field to pester the people at the stand,” Engelhart said. “On this one day Mr. Chu was buying vegetables and it came up that Dad had fought in Korea.
“When his transaction was finished he walked over to Dad, took his hand and said, ‘I just want to tell you I am so thankful for what you and the Americans did. You saved my family and my home.’
“That simple act made my dad feel right and that it had all been worth it,” Engelhart said. “Sometimes a simple thank you is all that is needed.”
Fireworks Chair Carol Johnson and history museum veterans Chair Jeannie Bandermann presented Engelhart with the framed certificate.