Sacrifice of U.S. Soldiers Killed in Korean War Honored on Truce Anniversary in Washington
WASHINGTON -- On July 27, the 54th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice, Americans and Koreans, meeting at the Korean War Memorial Hall, declared, "Freedom is not free" and that the freedom of Korea was gained by the sacrifice of U.S. soldiers.
"This memorial reminds me of the extraordinary service of two million ordinary Americans who answered the call their country over 50 years ago and struggled against North Korea troops who invaded in a bid to establish tyranny in South Korea," said James Nicholson, secretary of veteran affairs.
Nicholson reminded those at the ceremony of the deaths of some 37,000 Americans during 38 months of fighting in which another 100,000 were wounded and another 7,000 taken prisoner, including 40 percent who died in captivity.
Freedom for the Republic of Korea was purchased with great American sacrifice," said Nicholson. "The cost was grievously high."One unit at the Chosun Reservoir in North Korea started out with 250 men of whom 27 survived after 11 days of fighting, he said.
"Be proud of your success," Nicholson encouraged more than 100 Korean War veterans at the ceremony, "because 48 million citizens of the Republic of Korea live free today because of you."
The Korean ambassador to the U.S., Lee Tae-sik said the ceremony recognized the "extraordinary effort of great men and women from 21 nations who came to South Korea to repel the Communist advance and protect freedom 54 years ago."
Today the Republic of Korea "is a proud democratic country and its economy is 11th largest in the world," said the ambassador. "For the past half century the U.S.-Korea alliance has served as a bastion of Korean peace and prosperity. Korea has come to embody twin success in industrialization and democratization."
Thus "your service and sacrifice during Korean War was not in vain," he told the veterans. "You have the most profound thanks from the bottom of our Korean hearts."
Joseph Lawler, the Department of Interior`s director for the national capital region, said that four million people visit the Korean War Memorial annually "to learn more about it as well as honor the members of the U.S. armed forces who fought for cause freedom in the defense of the Republic of Korea."
At the end of the ceremony, while the bagpipes were being played, an American soldier put the American flag on the table under the platform honoring about 8,000 U.S. soldiers still missing in the war as the audience stood in reverence. Soldiers from 16 countries that participated in the Korean War, including Britain and Turkey, joined in the ceremony, offering flowers. About 300 people also attended from Korea`s Department of Veterans Affairs, the Korean Wounded Veterans Relief Association, and the Korean Veterans Association in US.
futureofkoreajournal.com (Posted 8/8/07)