FUNKSTOWN — Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward Chow told several local Korean War veterans on Sunday that they “would never be forgotten.”
The Korean War, whose ceasefire 60 years ago is being commemorated through various events, has often been referred to as the “Forgotten War.”
Korean War veterans have been using the anniversary events to educate the public about the war, said Les Bishop, commander of Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association. The local chapter held its 60th anniversary commemorative program at the Funkstown American Legion post Sunday.
Col. David Clark, chairman of the U.S. Department of Defense’s 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, said Korean War veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain. Forty-three million Korean men, women and children live in “peace and prosperity” today because of those veterans’ sacrifices, he said.
Countless other South Koreans were rescued from North Korean “tyranny and oppression” and came to the U.S. to build successful lives for themselves and their families, Clark said.
Some of the U.S. military members who died in the war never got to experience true love, the “bliss of family life” or the “tender love of a grandchild,” he said.
Those who survived have physical and emotional scars, Clark said.
Bishop said several local veterans are planning to attend the national commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the armistice Saturday morning at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Bishop said most historians agree that the result of the Korean War led to the rift between the Soviet Union and communist China and, eventually, the downfall of communism.
While there was a cease fire, there was not a peace treaty and there are still U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone with shots periodically fired, serving as a reminder that it’s just an armistice, Chow said.
Of the Marylanders in the war, 531 died; 142 were unaccounted for; 34 were prisoners of war; 81 were missing in action; and 27 were killed in action/body not recovered, Chow said.
Chow said, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 37,388 “distinguished, honorable Korean War vets” still live in Maryland.
Lt. Col. Kang Moon Ho, assistant defense attache at the Republic of Korea’s embassy, said the Korean people appreciate what the American veterans did for their country.
South Korea has gone from being an aid recipient to a donor, helping out other countries, according to Kang and a video shown to introduce him.
The video talked about how South Korea’s economy has improved in 60 years, making it the 10th largest economic power in the world; about the international role the country has; and about the freedom American veterans provided.
Korean War veterans “guaranteed freedom” to an entire generation, Clark said.