By John Sammons
Two years ago, President Obama proclaimed July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day to honor our Korean War Veterans.
Today marks 59 years since a ceasefire ended the fighting and established a demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea. Our armed forces provided 88 percent of the 341,000 international soldiers to the effort, 33,686 of whom gave their last full measure, another 2,830 suffered non-battle deaths, and 8,176 went missing in action or were taken as prisoners of war.
Today, we honor all distinguished Korean War veterans, their families and survivors. If you have a family member who served in Korea, or know a Korean War vet, call them and tell them how much you appreciate their service.
While the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 ended hostilities on the Korean peninsula, a peace treaty still hasn’t been signed to officially end the war. Today, peace remains tenuous and fragile as our armed forces continue to support our allies from the Republic of Korea.
The Korean War is often referred to as the “forgotten war.” However, when you hear the stories from our veterans about the Pusan Perimeter, the landing at Inchon, and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, you will never forget their bravery and sacrifice. They fought against all odds and in some of harshest conditions imaginable, to prevent the spread of communism and restore peace and freedom in the region.
Any visit to our nation’s capitol must include visiting the dramatic Korean War Memorial, preferably at night, when it truly captures the brave men who fought with such courage. The squad of soldiers made of brushed stainless steel making their way up a slope in helmets and ponchos and under arms portrays the "grunt" in a way that is poignant, sad but still uplifting. America’s military has always been and will continue to be the best in the world because of America’s Creed:
“I BELIEVE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AS A GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE; WHOSE JUST POWERS ARE DERIVED FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED; A DEMOCRACY IN A REPUBLIC, A SOVEREIGN NATION OF MANY SOVEREIGN STATES; A PERFECT UNION, ONE AND INSEPARABLE; ESTABLISHED UPON THOSE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM, EQUALITY, JUSTICE, AND HUMANITY FOR WHICH AMERICAN PATRIOTS SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES AND FORTUNES.
I THEREFORE BELIEVE IT IS MY DUTY TO MY COUNTRY TO LOVE IT; TO SUPPORT ITS CONSTITUTION; TO OBEY ITS LAWS; TO RESPECT ITS FLAG; AND TO DEFEND IT AGAINSTALL ENEMIES”.
Lastly, I encourage you all to learn more about the service and sacrifice of our Korean War veterans. There is a new documentary that premiered recently at the GI Film Festival called “Chosin” that is an emotional journey through one of the most savage battles in American history. For more information, go to http://www.frozenchosin.com/.
(Editor's note: The author is retired Navy commander and a veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War).