LEWISTON — Bert Dutil figures he spent too many years as a veteran of a forgotten war.

But on Saturday, he’ll line up with more than 1,000 veterans in five Maine towns — Lewiston, Bangor, Sanford, Brunswick and Rumford — to be honored on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War’s end.

“They called Korea the forgotten war,” Dutil said. But he and so many others remember. In fact, Dutil was there on July 27, 1953, when generals from the U.S. and North and South Korea signed documents for a cease-fire.

Dutil, who grew up in a French-speaking Lewiston home, served as an interpreter with the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission.

But Dutil, who was awarded several medals in 2006, wants everyone he served with to be honored.

“Korea wasn’t very important to some people,” he said. “But so many people deserve recognition.”

On Saturday morning at 9 a.m., Veterans Park in Lewiston will host people from the Veterans Administration and other organizations will set up booths to share information with people who served.

At 10 a.m., U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, are scheduled to speak and begin handling out medals.

Korean War medals will be handed out to anyone who served in that region during the war. Certificates of service will also be awarded to people who served during that time period from 1950 to 1953.

More medals will be handed at a ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. at American Legion Post 24 at 184 Congress Street in Rumford.

Though at least 1,000 honors will be handed out among Maine’s five Korean War events, they represent only a small number of the total Korean War veterans from Maine, said Peter Ogden, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veteran Services.

In all, about 13,000 Mainers served there, he said.

Many have died, but the ones who still live can share extraordinary stories.

“It’s like every day is a history lesson when you can look at these guys and and talk with them,” said Ogden, who has led an initiative to honor all Maine veterans with medals and certificates.

He knew Dutil’s story.

When the generals met at Panmunjom in July of 1953 to sign the armistice, the young man from Lewiston was with them.

He was a 21-year-old shoe worker when the Army sent him to Korea. He was a rifleman in the infantry when the Army noticed that he could speak, read and write French.

“To me, it wasn’t a big deal,” Dutil said in 2006. “That’s about all my family knew.”

Currently, about 16 percent of Maine’s adult population has served in uniform, Ogden said.

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