News: The Forgotten War: Remembering history
Story by Sgt. Ange Desinor
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea - July marks the anniversary month of the Korean Armistice Agreement that ceased the Korean War and the 63rd anniversary of the alliance U.S. forces have with South Korea.
Political differences and the inability to hold free elections throughout the Korean peninsula inevitably led to war.
The Korean War began June 25, 1950 when Communist north Korea invaded South Korea. Chinese interventions changed the course of the war and lead a resounding defeat to the U.S. Eighth Army and 2nd Infantry Division and caused them to retreat behind the 38th Parallel in late November 1950. After going back and forth across the 38th parallel, the fighting stalled and more and more casualties mounted with nothing to show for them. American officials worked anxiously to figure out some sort of armistice with the north Koreans. Finally the fighting ceased.
After three years, one month and two days of combat, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. On the morning of July 27, 1953, senior delegates met at Panmunjom, located in Gyeonggi Province.
The KAA was signed by Communist and United Nations delegates in Panmunjom; U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Harrison Jr., who represented United Nation Command and north Korea Gen. Nam II who represented the north Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army.
The armistice was designed to "insure a complete cessation of hostilities and all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved. No ‘final peaceful settlement’ has been achieved yet.”
Although South Korea did not sign the agreement, they do follow it.
“The armistice is just a peaceful illusion, meaning that the war hasn't ended yet” said Pvt. Lee, Joo Han, a Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army, or KATUSA, soldier assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division Museum. “I am looking forward to the unification as one nation. Until then, I will put effort to serve my nation as a soldier.”
Today, the alliance between the U.S. forces and the Republic of Korea remains strong and the bond between the two has strengthened over the past 60 years.
“We [U.S. soldiers and KATUSA] belong here today by the blood shed by our courageous ancestors who deemed it worthy to throw their bodies to protect the sovereignty of our nation and establish peace for us,” said Lee.
After 63 years the U.S. has not withdrawn its military commitment from South Korea and continues to show its commitment to the ROK’s security.The alliance between the U.S. and ROK ensures stability for the region, and the growing international security collaboration benefits the global community as well.
Over the last 50 years, South Korea experienced astounding economic, political and military growth, and has substantially reduced its dependency on the U.S.
“Since the armistice was signed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has remained an impoverished and a backwards country, while the Republic of Korea has become a thriving, economically powerful, democracy,” said Michael F. Davino national president of the Second Indianhead Division Association Inc., N.C. chapter. “The sacrifices made by our Korean War veterans and the subsequent service of the 2nd Infantry Division and other U.S. forces in Korea, since the armistice was signed has been key factors in the successful development of the ROK.”
War vet are proud of the continuation of friendship and the camaraderie between the U.S. and ROK.
“I’m proud to this day, of how the relationship between the ROK and the U.S. has strengthened and will continue to be a strong force,” said Charles Roy Burnham, Army veteran that served in the Korean War in Feb. 8, 1951 to Nov. 8, 1952 as an infantryman.
The relationship between the two forces exists outside of the uniform. Currently 2nd Infantry Division sponsors programs for soldiers, their families and U.S. civilians as a way to strengthen the U.S. and ROK alliance. Together they are given the opportunity to not only help fight and defend, but are offered programs such as the Head Start Program, to enhance the understanding of Korean culture, language and history.