Speech from South Korean Director of International Affairs for MPVA at 2014 reunion
Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs
Republic of Korea
2 August 2014, Louisville City, Kentucky State, USA
Honorable Consul General
Korean War Veterans and Family Members
Ladies and Gentlemen……
I am very honored to be with you as the representative of Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
I would like to thank President Norwood, Korean Society and others for organizing this event…
It is a very meaningful occasion for all of us who gather to honor and remember the sacrifices of those who fought, bled, went missing, and especially suffered brutal captivity during the Korean War.
We are privileged to have with us one of your well known members, your historian, Mister Arden Rowley, who was 33 months a prisoner of war, and now is one of your greatest spokesmen and advocates (Mr. Rowley, Please stand up and give him a big round of applause)
Proud Ex-Prisoner of War Veterans!
I do not like to bring up and recall your pain, sufferings, sorrow and great sacrifice on this special occasion.
But the record and the fact is clear on how all of you must have suffered so long ago, for my country, for this Great Nation and for a Better World!
Nevertheless, our veteran paid a terrible price to safeguard freedom, the Korean War has often been termed the “Forgotten War.”
Yet who could ever forget for a minute the great bravery, sacrifice and sufferings of the veterans here today as well as around the world, the war has never been forgotten.
It is always with them! It is not a forgotten and fading memory, but a sharp reality in their hearts and minds.
Indeed, many who became prisoners of war had experienced the most bitter and brutal of the fighting in Korea.
We all know, the world now knows, that half of your comrades perished in those wretched prison camps, and all of you faced the greatest of dangers and deprivation, and hell, and agony for every day you were in captivity.
We also know that nearly 8,000 of your comrades are still unaccounted for, and the remains of thousands still are beneath the ground at the old prison camp sites.
After the Armistice Agreement, the prisoners of war began to be repatriated, the story of the bravery of all of you gradually became known, but not as well-known as it should have been!
Individual acts of bravery while prisoners of war became recognized in some cases, but not in enough!
The world must know that those held captive by the enemy in the North stood proud and resolute, even while starved and abused…
How can we ever repay you? It is impossible.
But we have tried, by maintaining the faith that you had in our South Korean People… by not wasting the victory and the freedom that you gave to us!
We have worked hard through all of the years since the war. We did to make Korea one of the most advanced and most democratic nations in the world! Because of you, we are achieving it.
Korean War Veterans! You did us all, so very proud.
All veterans here today ….please stand up and accept the salute of my nation!
On behalf of my government and the people of Korea, I solemnly express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you!
Proud Korean War Veterans!
You may see Korea’s success and prosperity as your own doing, rising from the ashes of the war.
You may take pride in looking at today’s Dynamic Korea, skyscrapers, high buildings, booming businesses.
You may no longer feel forgotten if you come to my country and will experience our love, our appreciation and the modern Korea.
You deserve our unending honor, respect and appreciation, because you defended Korea and saved Korean people.
Dear Ex- Prisoner of Korean War Veterans!
If you can come to Louisville for this grand reunion… you can come to Seoul and Busan next year for another one!
Our Ministry will invite your group to our Korea… to your Korea, your second home, the country that you made free, under veterans Revisit Korea Program.
Please come, and let us show you our gratitude.
(To make this visit happen, please stay healthy. Please do not drink too much. Instead, drink a lot Korean Ginseng tea. Work out a daily basis so that we can see you next year.)
Korean War Veterans, you have always been, and will always be… Our Heroes!
God bless you all, Korean War Veterans and Family members
May God continue to bless this Great Nation, and this Great State of Kentucky!
Thank you very much.
Director of International Affairs Division
Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs