Mr. President, distinguished guests, especially our guests from Korea; fellow Veterans; ladies and gentlemen:
Six decades ago, the guns fell silent all along the 38th parallel in Korea, ending more than three and a half years of bloodshed, destruction, and enormous suffering. Today's ceremony honors the extraordinary courage of those, from all our nations, who fought, bled, died, went missing, suffered brutal captivity, and triumphed there.
More than 1.7 million Americans fought in Korea—on pieces of terrain nicknamed Pork Chop Hill and Heartbreak Ridge; in towns and places like Chipyong-ni, Pusan, and Chosin Reservoir; and in unnamed locations known only by grid coordinates and hilltop elevations.
T.R. Fehrenbach's definitive work, This Kind of War, chronicles timeless lessons about military readiness that were re-learned in Korea and it provides this oft-cited quotation:
". . . You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life–but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman Legions did, by putting your young men into the mud."
The Veterans we honor today were the young we sent to the mud of Korea with little notice. The lessons are many, as are the arguments about how they should have been better prepared and equipped to fight that expeditionary mission. What is unarguable, however, is the heroism with which these Veterans performed their missions. They rose above all questions of readiness to preserve the freedom of the South Korean people.
Today, we honor all Veterans, who served so courageously in Korea, and we thank their families for their service and sacrifice. Kapshi Kapshida! [We Go Together]
God bless our Veterans, and may God continue to bless this wonderful country of ours. Thank you
Veterans Crisis Line:
1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs | 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington DC 20420
Last reviewed/updated November 11, 2013