In the News – Obama issues proclamation on Korean War Armistice anniversary
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation Friday to commemorate the end of the Korean War 59 years ago, as the Pentagon hosted a formal ceremony to mark the anniversary.
“Today, on the 59th anniversary of the Military Armistice Agreement signed at Panmunjom, we honor all who served in the Korean War, and we pay lasting tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives for our Nation,” Obama said in the proclamation. Panmunjom is a truce village in the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas.
The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953, after three years of fierce fighting between the invading North, supported by China, and the South with the help of the U.S. and other U.N.-coalition forces.
“Most of all, we honor the tens of thousands of Americans who gave their lives defending a country they had never known and a people they had never met,” Obama said. “Their legacy lives on not only in the hearts of the American people, but in a Republic of Korea that is free and prosperous; an alliance that is stronger than ever before; and a world that is safer for their services.”
More than 50,000 U.S. service members were killed during the war, according to government data.
Obama called upon all Americans to observe the day with “appropriate ceremonies and activities” to honor Korean War veterans.
He has issued the proclamation each year since taking office in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon held a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the anniversary.
Named, “Heroes Remember,” it began with a wreath-laying ceremony to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war
In his speech, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the Korean War is not “America’s forgotten war.”
“Today, thanks to the service and sacrifice of our veterans six decades ago, South Korea has grown strong and independent. South Korea is a trusted ally, an economic power, a democracy, a provider of security in the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world. To the veterans of this war: your sacrifice made a difference,” he said.
He pointed out the contrary fate of North Korea, “which remains a dangerous and destabilizing country that is bent on provocation and is pursuing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while its people are left to starve.”
Panetta said the U.S. needs to take a crucial lesson from the Korean War, in which lots of troops paid a heavy price due to a lack of necessary training and the right weapons.
“They were sent into a tough fight with little preparation,” he said. “That is a mistake that we will not make again. And that’s why today, coming out of a decade of war, we have put forward a strategy-driven defense budget to meet the challenges of the future.”
The Pentagon may face $500 billion in spending cuts on top of the $487 billion already being implemented.
Congress is stuck in a political deadlock, however, ahead of presidential elections in November.
Panetta emphasized the urgency for the U.S. to beef up combat readiness.
“The world remains a dangerous place, and America must maintain the decisive military edge. We must remain the most powerful military power on the face of the earth,” he said. “With this strategy, we will not only have the strongest military, but make no mistake: we will be ready to deter aggression — anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”