The Korean War is often regarded as a “forgotten war.” It was waged between 1950-1953. It was a brief, but bloody conflict between communist and anti-communist forces that marked one of two times (the other being the Gulf War) in which the United Nations went to war. Over 36,000 Americans died in Korea. On this Memorial Day, while every American should honor the brave men and women who died keeping our nation safe, I especially remember those who died to keep my home country free of the pernicious influence of communism.
These 36,000+ who sacrificed their lives allowed untold millions to benefit from what would become one of the largest free market economies in the world. South Korea is part of the G20, with an annual GDP of $1 trillion. Very few nations are part of this club, and it’s an economic feat that would have seemed more of a pipe dream in 1953, as most of South Korea was destroyed.
It allowed over 150,000 South Koreans to find homes–and hopefully loving families–in America. I, for one, would not be here if it hadn’t been for American troops fighting to keep a people they really didn’t know free from communist aggression.
Now, it hasn’t always been an easy road to democracy. South Korea has been dotted with periods of authoritarian governments, and the National Security Act of 1948 curtails their free speech laws. Nevertheless, the quality of life compared to that of their northern neighbors couldn’t be starker, with South Koreans living more vibrant and healthier lives.
Thanks to American troops landing in Inchon in 1951 (South Korean forces were on the brink of defeat by this time), South Koreans can enjoy freedom. To the hundreds of thousands of Korean adoptees, we have the ability to call America our home, living with loving families, and enjoying the rights and liberties as American citizens; having the ability to study at the best learning institutions in the world; climbing the proverbial social ladder; and possibly achieving the American dream.
Right now, there is a movement to severely curb or end Korean adoption. I strongly disagree, but in a free society–or societies based on representative government–you can have the debate without the fear of being sent to a re-education camp, tortured, or murdered as they do in North Korea.
That's a debate for another time. Right now, it's important to remember that no war where the blood of tens of thousands of Americans has been spilled should ever be considered forgotten. To the 36,000+ Americans who died in Korea, thank you for all you have given us.