Friday, June 26, 2009

The Forgotten War

The Korean war officially began 59 years ago yesterday. It's always interesting to hear about wars and see the history. It's incredibly sad to see that so many people died. If you look at the numbers, I believe more people died fighting in the Korean War than the Vietnam War.

What's a shame about this war is that it's often referred to as the Forgotten War on this side of the ocean. It came soon after World War II and wasn't publicized like the Vietnam War. Both of my grandpa's were in the service at this time. If you don't know your history well, here's a lesson for you:
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean offensive started from four locations
across the 38th parallel into South Korea. In 41 days the South Korean and
American forces would be driven back into the Pusan perimeter, just a few miles
from the southern shore of the tip of South Korea. In August reinforcements from
the Eighth Army and Marine Corps would arrive.

By the end of September the Eighth Army would break out of the Pusan
perimeter while Infantry and Marine Corps landed at Inchon and liberated Seoul,
the capital of South Korea.

Three months later Marines, forward details from the Army and other
British, French, Turkish, South Korean and other United Nations forces would
stand at the Yalu River, the border between Korea and China, thinking the war
was nearly over. Soon after reaching the border, a force of 300,000
Chinese troops who had moved into North Korea during the UN advance and
concealed themselves in the mountainous terrain, attacked the UN forces from the
rear. The UN forces would soon be fighting their way back to the coast to be
taken off by the Navy or to secure positions in the south. The next 2½ years of
the conflict would become trench warfare or battles for hilltops fought back and
forth across the 38th parallel.
The Korean War lasted for three years and ended in a truce of sorts. This is why that small peninsula halfway around the world has a DMZ and is still divided. It's an unfortunate outcome...considering that many North Koreans perish each year due to starvation. People there aren't allowed the same freedoms we have here in the States.

Both of my grandpas have different experiences from their time in the service. My mom's dad was in the army and saw a lot more action fighting in the first year and half of the war than my dad's father who was in the navy on an aircraft carrier for the second half. According to him he didn't see any action...just helped launch planes.

This war has particularly special meaning to me because I'm adopted from South Korea. If it hadn't been for U.N. forces interveening and the U.S. sending as many people as they did, I may have never made it here to my family. I'm grateful for those who served and for those who continue to serve. Without you a lot of things wouldn't be possible. Sure, there are mistakes and people get hurt who shouldn't be hurt, but there is also a lot of good when someone or a group stands up for someone that can't protect themselves. The War Memorial in Washington D.C. is particulary impressive.


Hopefully oneday, Korea will be united as one single country...that there won't be this need to have a DMZ and soldiers patrolling boarders. That there wouldn't be news of North Korea doing nuclear tests and launching missles. While they may be idle threats and maybe the country can't do much damage to the US, it's still sad.