President Obama said that veterans of the Korean War “deserved better” than to be remembered for a “forgotten war,” and all Americans should salute them for “shining deeds” that promoted freedom and democracy.
“Here in America, no war should ever be forgotten,” Obama said at a ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended combat in Korea. “No veteran should ever be overlooked.”
Citing the immense challenges faced by troops in Korea — brutally cold winters, muddy rivers, rocky mountains, the “choking dust” of hot summers, and the influx of hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops — Obama praised the veterans for preventing a North Korean takeover of the south and setting the stage for South Korea’s emergence as a thriving democracy.
While many historians say the Korean War ended in a stalemate along the 38th parallel separating north and south, Obama took issue with the bitter assertion that some soldiers made at the time — “die for a tie.”
More than 36,000 Americans died during the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others wounded. The South Koreans lost some 415,000, and a similar number were wounded. Analysts have estimated the total death toll from the Korean War at up to 2.5 million, including Americans, North and South Koreans, and U.S. allies with the United Nations.
American veterans who fought in Korea and attended Saturday’s ceremony said they want to be remembered for what they did: stopping the advance of communism in South Korea and setting the stage for its development as a thriving democracy.