Special anniversary events help Americans remember the ‘Forgotten War’

Special anniversary events help Americans remember the ‘Forgotten War’

Korean War veterans observe a moment of silence in 2016 during the National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day ceremony at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial, Brighton Park, Atlantic City, New Jersey. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)


By Rindi White 

Sixty-four years ago, the armistice ending the Korean War was signed, ending a short-but-bloody war in which more than 5.7 million Americans fought and about 54,000 U.S. service members died. An additional 103,000 were wounded in the conflict.

The Korean War is sometimes called the Forgotten War because it has the disadvantage of happening between the end of World War II and the heavily protested Vietnam War. It happened between 1950 and 1953, after North Korean forces, supported by Russian and Chinese allies, marched into South Korea in an attempt to absorb the country and create a unified Korea.

The action prompted an immediate response from the United Nations, and the United States provided 88 percent of that organization’s military personnel tasked with responding.

The three-year war happened on many fronts. According to the National Veterans Foundation, some soldiers were exposed to 50-below temperatures and high winds, and many developed cold-related injuries such as frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot. Others were exposed to noise, asbestos, vibrations, polychlorinated biphenyls and other harsh chemicals. Others were exposed to radiation from nuclear testing or materials.

With tensions still running high in North Korea, it’s easy to see that the armistice brought about a cease-fire but did not end the war. Overshadowed by World War II veterans who preceded them and the Vietnam veterans who followed and plagued by a war that didn’t truly end, Korean War veterans received little attention or honor upon their return home, according to the National Veterans Foundation.

More than 2.25 million Korean War veterans are still alive.

A memorial to honor Korean War veterans was built in Washington, D.C., in 1995. It is at West Potomac Park, near the Pool of Remembrance. This year marks the 10th annual Armistice Day Peace Vigil and Unity Walk in memory and honor of the Korean War veterans. The annual vigil is held at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and begins at 6:25 p.m., with a candlelight vigil at 7:27 p.m. Remember 727, an organization created to remember the Korean War Armistice Day and recognize the significance of that date and the sacrifices made during the Korean War, sponsors the event.

Commemorations will be held in several communities across the nation, including on July 22 at 10:30 a.m. in Kennedy Park in Chicago, where the Windy City Veterans Association holds a ceremony.

On July 27, several events are scheduled. The 64th signing of the Korean War Armistice will be commemorated at 11 a.m. that day, at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial at Park Place/Boardwalk near Brighton Park in Atlantic City, New Jersey. At noon, the Korea Society in New York City will hold its annual salute to Korean War veterans at the Korean War memorial in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park, with a lunch for invited veterans to follow. Across the country in Custer, South Dakota, a commemorative event will be held at 1 p.m. at the Custer Senior Citizen’s Center.

A special reception and dinner is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. July 30 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Concord, North Carolina. The event is free for Korean War veterans and a guest.

Check with your local American Legion or veterans organization for community events commemorating Armistice Day in your community.

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