|A Korean War veteran salutes in front of the memorial monument at the Korean National Cemetery in Seoul, Friday. About 220 veterans and their families from 21 nations have been invited to attend commemorative events to mark the 60th anniversary of Korean Armistice Agreement and visit former battle sites across the nation. / Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo of The Korea Times
In a proclamation to honor the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire agreement that ended the three-year conflict, Obama told his country to honor the Korean War veterans.
“We remember ordinary men and women who showed extraordinary courage through three long years of war, fighting far from home to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met,” he said.
“Most of all, we remember those brave Americans who gave until they had nothing left to give. No monument will ever be worthy of their service, and no memorial will fully heal the ache of their sacrifice. But as a grateful nation, we must honor them ― not just with words, but with deeds.”
The Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, was halted after an armistice, not a peace treaty, was signed on July 27, 1953, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war. More than 36,000 American soldiers were killed in the war, with over 103,000 injured, according to the U.S. government.
Obama, 51, will commemorate the anniversary with a speech on Saturday at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington and he will become the first U.S. President to participate in a formal ceremony to mark the Korean armistice. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will accompany him.
The President also praised the remarkable economic development of South Korea.
“In six decades, the Republic of Korea has become one of the world’s largest economies and one of America’s closest allies. Together, we have built a partnership that remains a bedrock of stability throughout the Pacific. That legacy belongs to the service members who fought for freedom 60 years ago, and the men and women who preserve it today,” he said.
In line with the U.S. move, the Korean government proclaimed the Armistice Day Friday as “United Nations (U.N.) Forces Participation Day” to honor the veterans who fought in the war.
“The U.N. Forces Participation Day will shed light on the significance of U.N. forces that fought in the Korean War and honor their contribution and sacrifice,” the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) said.
“It aims to improve relations with allied U.N. members and help post-war generations learn the nation’s history.”
For this year’s event, government officials, representatives of armistice monitoring groups and U.N. organizations from 27 nations were invited to South Korea by the veterans affairs service in appreciation of their contribution and to show them the nation's remarkable development over the past six decades.