By Mark Pearson
Here is a little history quiz. Does anyone remember what started 70 years ago? This year we are remembering the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, but unfortunately, five years later it was the start of another war. “What war was that?” You may ask. It was the Korean War that ever since has been commonly referred to as the Forgotten War.
This war, even though at the time was referred to as a “police action” started on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops crossed into South Korea. Six months later, after US and allied troops commanded by General Douglass MacArthur pushed the North Korean army back up to the border between the two countries, China entered the war. As a result of China entering the war on the side of the South Koreans, It lasted three years and two months. After communist China entered the war on the side of North Korea, It took the military of several countries under the United Nations umbrella to fight them off.
Those nations that participated on the side of the US and South Korea were the UK including Canada, Australia, Turkey, Greece, France, Luxemburg, and many others but the major contributor was the US. No treaty was signed, just a cease-fire so technically the war has never ended. The US alone lost over 54,000 soldiers in some of the coldest, most inhospitable terrain imaginable. At the start, the Marine corps had to recall a large number of WW II veterans who had fought in the hot, humid, rain-soaked jungles of the South Pacific and put them in a mountainous country where the winter temperatures dropped as low as 30 degrees below zero with the wind-chill lower than that. Toward the end of the war, the fighting resembled the trench warfare of WW I along a line that somewhat followed the same border between North and South Korea.
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After three years it appeared that nothing had changed, the dividing line between the two countries was just a longitudinal line on the map called the 38th parallel. Fifty-four thousand soldiers died and for what? Well, let’s see. It has become one of the most stable democracies in the Far East. It is an economic powerhouse and its people are some of the most appreciative of all of the countries that we have ever defended or liberated.
On one of the anniversaries of the war, the South Korean government paid for all of the participants, regardless of what country they were from, to come back to Korea for a week-long celebration including round trip airfare. Would you ever expect to see France, Holland, Belgium, or Italy to do the same for all those that fought for their liberty?
There are a lot of veterans from that war still with us today. I ask you to thank them, honor them, and most of all, act like you know something about where they fought and what they went through in the war that most people have forgotten.