Monday, July 27, 2015

Today in history: Armistice signed ending the Korean War

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the armistice which signaled the end of the Korean War. The Korean War was the first major conflict of the Cold War. In North Korea, this day is known as the Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War. In the United States, the Korean War is referred to as the Forgotten War. On this day in 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial dedicated in Washington, D.C. The war which ended in a stalemate and is a war that is technically still being fought by North Korea and South Korea.

The Korean Demilitarized Zone is the buffer zone between North and South Korea. It is the de factor border which runs the vicinity of the 38th parallel and roughly cuts the Korean peninsula in half. It is 250 km (160 miles) long and approximately 4 km (2.5 miles) wide. Despite its name, it is the most heavily militarized border in the world. Since its establishment, there have been numerous incidents and incursions by the North Koreans which the North Korean government denies. In 1968, there was a failed attempt to assassinate President Park Chung Hee. Between the years of 1974-1990, a series of infiltration tunnels were discovered. A total of 17 tunnels were discovered. The most recent incident was June 15, 2015 when a teenage North Korean solider walked across the DMZ and defected at a South Korean guard post. 

Today, I would like to remember the Forgotten War. To remember the men who fought a war that no one really cared about not like they did for World War II or the Vietnam War. The men who came home to no fanfare, no tinker tape parades. To the men who quietly came home and began to build their lives, their families and their careers. Approximately 40,000 American soldiers died in the Korean War, more than 100,000 were wounded and more than 32,000 are missing in action. In total, 5 million people were killed in this conflict and 10% of the causalities were Korean civilians. 416 Korean War unknown soldiers are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu, Hawaii.  

Today the North Koreans proudly claim they won the Korean War, we remember the men and women who served and those who died in service of their country during the Korean War, a war that officially wasn’t a “war” but it was for those who experienced it. To all the Korean War veterans, thank you for your service. I may not know your names but you are not forgotten.