Samsung, Legion allies in Korean War legacy

Samsung, Legion allies in Korean War legacy

One of the highlights of my American Legion career was when, as department commander of Georgia, I was able to participate in the dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway in 2008.

It was special because it was not just about the naming of a stretch of pavement on U.S. 80. It was about remembering the heroes of a war that claimed more than 34,000 Americans and 415,000 South Koreans.

This is why I am so proud of The American Legion’s relationship with Samsung Corp. Recently, the electronics giant donated $1 million to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation’s maintenance fund. But this is hardly surprising to us. In 1995, Samsung bestowed a $5 million endowment to the Legion for the establishment of a scholarship fund for family members of U.S. citizens who are war veterans.

Since then, the fund has enabled nearly 2,000 students to pursue educations through $5.5 million in awarded scholarships. These bright young men and women understand the importance of good citizenship and respect for those who have fought for freedom.

It is a fight that continues today, as thousands of U.S. troops stand prepared with our South Korean allies to face provocation or even invasion by a militarized and tyrannical regime from the north. 

This month I will personally convey The American Legion’s gratitude to our troops and our South Korean allies when I visit Seoul and the demilitarized zone. I will tell them that although the cease-fire has been in effect for 62 years, we are well aware that the region is just one incident away from another devastating war.

The Samsung scholarships remind us that out of the ashes of war can come great legacies. One is the story of Rachel Forbes. A recipient of an original 1996 Samsung scholarship, she is now a kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Nashville VA Medical Center, where she says she’s grateful to have the opportunity to care for veterans on an almost daily basis.

At an American Legion luncheon last year, Austin Owen of Vestavia Hills, Va., recalled his grandfather’s service as a tank commander during the Korean War. “He was really proud of me when I received the scholarship, and it opened the door for him to share his war experience with me,” Owen says. “We are all appreciative.”

In addition to investing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in more than 500 U.S. public schools, Samsung continues to honor the service of Korean War veterans with a $378,000 grant recognizing Samsung American Legion Scholars, many of them direct descendants of those who fought that war. The gift will include a ceremony in Washington and enable ongoing networking through the Samsung American Legion Alumni Association. Visit for more information.


As always, the Legion Family shares Samsung’s gratitude and respect for this special generation of veterans, whose service and sacrifice during history’s “forgotten war” continues to benefit the free world.