Remembering the Korean WarWhen Americans study American...

the Forum

July 03, 1995

Remembering the Korean War

When Americans study American wars, they tend to jump from World War II to the Vietnam War and skip entirely the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.

This "police action," as President Harry Truman called the conflict, is known as the "forgotten war."

Yet this war should not be forgotten. It was the stimulus that awoke the West to communist aggression. This conflict initiated a 41-year contest known as the Cold War, and as a result NATO grew from a paper tiger into a real military force.

America and the Soviet Union challenged each other in an arms race that tested both economies to the fullest. In retrospect, this "forgotten war" became the first step in the decisive contest that began the collapse of communism.

At last Congress has recognized the importance of the Korean War. On July 27 a National Korean War Veterans Memorial will be dedicated in the nation's capital on the Mall directly across from the Vietnam War Memorial.

Unlike the Vietnam Memorial, a simple, somber black granite wall with names of the fallen that symbolizes the enormous human loss of war, this new memorial is dynamic, symbolizing the struggle against communism to preserve freedom and justice.

It reminds us of the critical importance of patriotism and duty in defense of freedom. Nineteen 7-foot bronze statues showing poncho-clad infantrymen in combat with the cold winter wind at their backs personify the harsh climatic struggle endured in Korea.

The statues represent ethnic diversity as well as the three services, the Army, Air Force and Marines. The sculptor, Frank Gaylord, a veteran of the infantry in World War II, has been able to have the faces of the statues tell the story of the Korean War. These faces impart the trauma and emotions felt by front-line soldiers.

The war became a total effort by our armed forces. To convey this effort, a long black granite wall is etched with a mural taken from hundreds of photographic images. These images evoke the vast struggle by all the armed forces to support the front-line serviceman.

This memorial honors the American servicemen who gave their lives to stop the expansion of world communism. With the fall of communism in the Soviet Union in 1991, the sacrifices of these brave servicemen may now seem far more justified.

Gen. Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, characterized the war as "the wrong war, at the wrong time, and in the wrong place."

Had he lived in 1995 and witnessed the changes that have taken place in the world that have led to the dedication of this memorial, he might have changed his mind.

The "forgotten war" in Korea from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 should be considered the decisive conflict that started the collapse of communism.

D. Randall Beirne


Save needed jobs

Since it became apparent that several military installations in Maryland would be closed or downsized, I have marveled at the antics of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and the usually invisible Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

In their long congressional careers these two have never seen a weapons system they did not oppose, any cutback they didn't favor, especially if the savings were used for a new social program or any benefit for military personnel they didn't consider obscene.

If a score card were kept, these two would win the congressional anti-defense sweepstakes, hands down. Now they are meeting with employees who will lose their jobs and promising them special programs that are not available to people laid off in private industry and promising to ask the president to veto the Base Closing Commission's findings. That is the most nauseating kind of politics.

While I have the utmost sympathy for anybody who loses his job, through his fault or otherwise, our two senators should learn that our defense establishments are intended to defend this country, nothing else.

Under the current administration, budget cuts have robbed the Department of Defense of much of its capability.

No one cared that many sergeants, petty officers and officers -- ++ the most experienced leaders -- have been forced out in the past 2 1/2 years. Morale is low. Many of us who made military service our careers and understand the importance of a strong military are worried.

Mr. Sarbanes and Ms. Mikulski should learn the Defense Department was never intended to provide employment by keeping open bases it can do without or keeping people it doesn't need. Being a government employee, in or out of uniform, has never come with a lifetime guarantee of employment.

Chuck Frainie


The killers

You have to hand it to the ancient Romans. They perpetrated the most devastating propaganda lie in history. To this day, there are still people who believe that the Jews killed Jesus.

It's so transparent. Remember, all four Evangelists wrote their accounts in a time when Rome's totalitarian emperors could order an outraged whistle-blower killed with a snap of the fingers.

Any historian then would be tempted to soft-pedal the Roman role in the affair.

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