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Posted on Aug 6, 2012 in War College

Korean War Veterans Honored by U.S., South Korea

By Armchair General

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Korean War tribute bench, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

The Korean War of the 1950s is often treated as a footnote to history. Five million casualties make for one hell of an expensive footnote.

That’s the estimated number of military and civilian casualties suffered between June 25, 1950, and the time an armistice ended the war on July 27, 1953. Because the conflict was fought as a United Nations response to the invasion of South Korea by communist North Korea (China’s military joined the North Korean cause months after the war began), the honored dead and wounded came from many nations.

During the 60th anniversary of that war, South Korea, the United States and other nations are honoring those who served. In the U.S., much of the observation is being handled by the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee.

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When the war ended, the borders of North and South Korea were the same as when it began. To a world that had, just a few years before, watched on maps as Allied forces pushed inexorably across North Africa, Europe and the Pacific in a successful quest for unconditional victory, the affair on the Korean Peninsula seemed somehow unsatisfying. Three years of bloodshed to accomplish—what? It hadn’t even officially been a war; the UN had to call it "the Korean Conflict" for political reasons. Thus, to the world at large, Korea became "the Forgotten War," a historical footnote.

From a distance of 60 years, a different image emerges. The strong response in repeling the first post–World War II attempt by a communist nation to absorb a non-communist one sent an unmistakable message about the world’s resolve and may have prevented a larger confrontation. For certain, it permitted South Korea—young, weak and struggling in the 1950s—to emerge as a solid democracy in Asia, an ally of the West, with one of the world’s most respected militaries.

U.S. Army veteran Andres Vegara at the 'Heroes Remembered' commemoration, July 27, 2012.The South Korean people have not forgotten they owe their independence to, as they have expressed it, "the noble sacrifice of the U.N. Korean War veterans. Korea has been a very righteous nation, and the Korean people will never forget the debt that they owe to the Korean War veterans." Those veterans are dying at the same sort of rapid pace that is taking the vets of World War II from us, many of whom also fought in Korea.

To honor all these veterans and others who helped preserve their independence, South Korea established the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Project, or simply KW60, "to express their sincere gratitude to those 16 nations who sent troops to the Korean War and to those 25 nations who supported the effort with medical goods and other service."

Among their activities is a world tour of the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea (see picture in the slideshow above) to "convey sincere gratitude to those nations and soldiers who sacrificed their precious lives" and "to share Korea’s unique culture with the world."

The United States Department of Defense is also sponsoring events to honor America’s Korean War veterans, establishing the DoD 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, led by Colonel David Clark. United States casualties "totaled 54,246 men, including 33,000 killed in action; 102,000 wounded; and almost 8,000 whose remains have never been recovered," a DoD media release says. Through 2013, the Committee will honor the service and sacrifice of Korean War Veterans, commemorate the key events of the war, and educate Americans of all ages about the historical significance of the Korean War.

An honor guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, July 27, 2012.On July 27, 2012, on the 59th anniversary of the conclusion of the Korean War, the Korean War Commemoration Committee hosted a memorial event at Arlington National Cemetery. Over 1,500 Korean War Veterans and their family members attended.

Among those veterans were two Medal of Honor recipients, Rodolfo Hernandez and Ronald Rosser. Click on their names to read about their actions.

David W. Mills, a POW during the war, was one of the guest speakers. He said, “On the happiest day of my 17-year-old life, I was returned to American control through Freedom Village on August 24, 1953. There are no words to adequately describe the joy, the thrill, the relief, and the numbness I felt at being free again. But a heavy price had been paid to maintain the freedom of this distant, peace-loving nation which is today, not only alive, but vibrant, healthy, and prosperous.”

For more information on the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, visit the Website at http://koreanwar.defense.gov or contact them, koreanwar(at)conus.army.mil.

3 Comments

  1. Are there more pictures available of the ceremony at Arlington and the dinner on the 27th of july?
    I was one of the Dutch red-barets in the audiance during that day.

    yours sincerely

    • Mr. Jacobs,

      Thank you for your e-mail dated 8/8/2012. Unfortunately, there are no additional photos available of the ceremony or the 27th July dinner.

      If you contact the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee at http://www.koreanwar60.com, they may be able to assist you find additional photos.

      Good luck!

      Rob

  2. Hi everyone! go check out the Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial (KWVDM), in which we have posted interviews of Korean War Veterans (KWV) that we have interviewed all around the country! It is an internet-based memorial, so go to http://www.kwvdm.org , and make sure to also like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter (@kwvdmp) and instagram (@kwvdm). We hope that, through the KWVDM, we can preserve the legacy of the KWV and show them the respect they deserve! Please spread the word!

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  1. Korean War 60th Anniversary – Col. David J. Clark Interview » Armchair General - [...] KW60 logoCol. Clark: Over the past two years the Committee has planned and executed countless activities to honor Korean…

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