- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009


On Monday, veterans of the Korean War will be honored at the 56th commemoration of the Korean War Armistice, which effectively ended the hostilities of the Cold War conflict that began in 1950.

The Korean War consisted of a conflict between North Korea and South Korea, as both sides sought the reunification of the peninsula under their respective governments; the United States and other U.N. nations intervened to bolster the democratic South versus the communist North.

The event on Monday will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the National Korean War Memorial. July 27 also marks the anniversary of the 1995 dedication of the National Korean War Memorial, which is located near the Lincoln and the Vietnam War memorials on the Mall. Representatives from 16 nations that sent troops to fight for freedom under the United Nations flag will participate in the ceremony, carrying their native flags.

Dignitaries in attendance will include Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Duk-soo and Timothy Smith, director of the D.C. Office of Veterans Affairs.

The national anthem will be sung by Miss D.C. 2009 Jennifer Cory. The War Veterans Memorial Band, directed by George Carroll, will perform throughout the event. In addition, members of the Civil Air Patrol Band, featuring renowned piper Tim Batten, will perform. Participants will include Korean immigrants to the U.S. who are also Korean War veterans. The commemoration at the National Korean War Memorial will conclude with a dignified wreath-laying ceremony to honor the fallen heroes of the war, led by Mr. Shinseki and Mr. Han.

The armistice between North and South Korea recently garnered international headlines when the North Korean government announced May 27 that it would no longer recognize the agreement. There have been numerous incidents along the demilitarized zone, which marks the 38th parallel border between the two nations over the past 56 years. Yet, the armistice has generally held the peace.

That peace was won by the tremendous sacrifice of the United Nations’ forces, comprising troops from 16 nations, the great majority of which came from the United States. Close to 40,000 U.S. soldiers gave their lives for freedom in Korea, 103,000 were wounded and 5,178 were missing or taken as prisoners of war.

The Korean Peninsula remains a global “hot spot,” especially as a result of the repeated launching of test missiles by the North Korean government. U.S. forces continue to buttress the defenses of South Korea and have vowed to respond with military force if there is a direct assault. The warm relationship between South Korea and the United States is as vital today as it was during the Cold War several decades ago - perhaps even more so.

Another wreath-laying ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. in Arlington National Cemetery at the Korean War Meditation Bench, located near the north entrance to the amphitheater. A welcome address will be given there by Brig. Gen. Kim Kook-hun, defense attache of South Korea. The keynote address will be delivered by P. Michael Pezzella, director of “The Chosin Few,” a well-known Korean War veterans’ group named after the reservoir made famous during the war.

Both events are open to the public and admission is free. For additional information, contact Norbert Reiner at 703/893-6313 or Tony Dzierski at 703/451-5591.

• Howard C. Self is national executive director of the Universal Peace Federation-USA.

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