Dedication ceremony held for Korean War Memorial in San Francisco's Presidio

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Since 2009, we have reported on the effort to build a Korean War memorial in San Francisco's Presidio National Cemetery. On Monday, a dedication was held.

PHOTOS: Korean War Memorial unveiled in San Francisco

If you are a Korean War veteran or you care about one, then you already know that what happened in San Francisco's Presidio on Monday did not come easily.

Monday's formalities were a product of pain, suffering, and heroism in what veterans call the forgotten war. It's forgotten no more, in black letters and photos on stone.

"Well it is very impressive," said Korean War veteran Carl Petersdorf. "And it brings back a lot of memories. Some good, some bad."

Lisa Ginn of Oakland carried memories of her father in a box.

"I had to bring him here," she said.

He represents so many veterans who never lived to see this day, whose families carried them the last few steps in their hearts and hands.

"He would just be really happy that I am here representing," she said.

If you have not been to Presidio National Cemetery lately, it may seem that this memorial just appeared. But that's hardly the case. It's there, mostly due to the dedication of one man.

Marine Lt. Colonel John "Black" Stevens began this project in 2009, when he was 88 years old. How could the Presidio, he wondered, not have a memorial to the so-called police action that killed 33,000 Americans and 1 million Koreans.

With a lot of help, he raised more than $3.5 million.

"It wasn't a police action, it was a war," he said. "We were getting killed and we were killing people."

RELATED: Bay Area veteran fights for Korean War memorial

Among them, Baldamero Lopez. A photo of him cresting the wall at Inchon serves as the memorial's centerpiece. Moments after the photo was taken, he died.

His nephew Mike Lopez, from Fort Lauderdale, was in attendance Monday. When asked what his uncle would say about this, Lopez replied, "I did what I was trained to do."

They never gave up. Not then. Not now.

"It's good, it's good," said Stevens. "Took a long time to get here."

Click here for full details on the Korean War Memorial.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.