Not everyone in the Vermilion County area knew Hershall Lee, but anyone who travels along Hazel Street in Danville can see the results of his work.
Lee, 81, passed away earlier this week. He had volunteered for the Air Force in 1950, and served in South Korea during the war.
Just like thousands of other U.S. military personnel, he returned home after the Korean War and built a life for his family and himself.
The Korean War was not a popular effort within the United States. Close on the heels of the devastation of World War II, the initial battles caught U.S. and United Nations’ forces unprepared. Early losses — in manpower and territory — were high.
Domestic differences also cast a shadow over the Korean War, as President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur fought about control of the effort. Truman replaced MacArthur, but the split caused political wounds at home.
It wasn’t until years later that Lee decided the efforts of all Korean War veterans deserved to be recognized.
He helped a local group plan and construct the Korean/Vietnam War Memorial near Hazel and Williams streets in Danville.
He also helped organize the local Korean War veterans organization, expanding its reach to across Illinois.
His persistence gained Korean War veterans the recognition they had lacked for decades.
Lee remained active in local veteran organizations in recent years. Officials at American Legion Post 210 honored him last month for his dedication to the veterans’ cause.
Lee’s service to his country — and to his fellow veterans — did not end when he took off that Air Force uniform for the final time more than 50 years ago. For that, we all owe him thanks.