Capitol Observes Korean War Commemorative Ceremony
More than 300 people crowded the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday to honor veterans of the Korean War, 60 years after the conflict ended.
The emotional ceremony featured Secretary of State Mark Martin, Governor Mike Beebe, Grand Master In Ho Lee of the American Taekwondo Association and Ambassador Suk-Bum Park, consul general of the Republic of Korea, and other speakers.
Martin said when American soldiers returned from Korea, “they quietly went about their lives. No parades. No celebrations. No famous pictures from Times Square. Mostly, their service was ignored.”
That absence of tribute led to Korea’s being called “the forgotten war.” Martin said, “We want you to know you are not forgotten. We thank you, and we appreciate you. Today, we are here to honor you.”
Beebe spoke about Arkansas’s relationship with South Korea, and the sacrifices of military personnel and their families.
“It’s incumbent on us … we have an obligation to say to all men and women in uniform, and their families — to say God bless you,” Beebe said “We thank you from the bottom of our heart, and we salute you.”
Dr. David Stricklin, director of the Butler Center, described the Center’s project, “Arkansas Remembers: The Forgotten War.” Stricklin encouraged any Korean veterans who have not already been part of the Butler Center’s research to contact his staff (www.butlercenter.org) to become part of the project.
Lee recounted the effects of the war on South Koreans. “After the war, most Koreans lived on food aid from the United States,” he said. And Koreans, both in South Korea and the U.S., have worked hard to build and strengthen their country. “Our hard work and industry can help both the country we came from, and the country we now call home,” he said.
Park said when the war began in 1950, “the aggression was not an attack on South Korea, but on the very idea of freedom.”
American soldiers, he said, “risked and gave their lives for a country they had never seen, and a people they had never known… I am deeply honored and humbled to be surrounded by so many brave spirits. On behalf of the people of Korea, please let me express our gratitude.”
“It is true that the Korean War is often called the forgotten war. But no one who fought, no one who sacrificed, no one who suffered and died, will ever be forgotten in Korea,” Park added. “As a result of your sacrifice, Korea was able to accomplish much in the last six decades. None of this would have been possible without you, or dreamed of without your sacrifice. We will never forget what you have done for us.”