HIGHLAND | Fifteen-year-old Richard Garza III, of Highland, led his family on a trip of a lifetime thanks to an essay contest he entered last summer.
His essay earned him a trip to Washington D.C. to participate in the first Korean War Veterans Legacy Workshop where he was one of five students to win a scholarship for Best Presentation.
"Personally, my family had not visited Washington D.C. prior and this trip turned out to be a most memorable one," said Richard's father, Richard Garza Jr.
The younger Garza, a sophomore at Highland High School and an alumnus of Our Lady of Grace School in Highland, wrote about the Korean War and his grandfather, Richard Garza Sr., who was an Infantry Medic and worked under the South Korean and U.S. Surgeon General. Richard Sr. was part of the U.S. Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea that helped train and provides logistic support for the Republic of Korea Army.
All students who were participating in the workshop were invited to the Korean Embassy and met the South Korea President’s Special Envoy, Jeong-Hun Kim.
The Korean War Veterans Legacy Workshop group was also privileged to be seated near the front at the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Ceremony on the Washington Mall.
All participants made presentations during the workshop and were graded according on participation, presentation, attendance, attitude and leadership. Out of 26, Richard Garza III was one of only 11 representing the U.S. and also only one of three high school students selected.
The majority of the presenters were graduate and university students of whose relatives served in the Korean War. Students came from as far as New Zealand, Ethiopia, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
The KWVL group plans to establish a World Korean War Veterans Youth Corps that will reach out to developing countries who participated in the Korean War. The U.S. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Patriots and Veteran Affairs of the Republic of Korea will oversee the project.
Richard Garza III appreciated his grandfather telling him about the essay contest through the Korean War Veterans Association and said his experience whetted his appetite for additional international workshops. “It was my first experience in a workshop and I like to see how the other parts of the world live and appreciate the privileges Americans are given in the U.S.," he said.