The Korean War started on this day — June 25 — seventy years ago, when when North Korea invaded South Korea. By early July, the United States had sent troops into battle against the North Koreans, who were aided by their fellow Communist ally, China.
More than 36,000 Americans, 170,000 South Korean soldiers, 400,000 North Korean soldiers, 200,000 Chinese soldiers, and 2-3 million Korean civilians would die before the intense three-year conflict came to an end in an uneasy truce that has lasted to the present.
My family was deeply affected by the Korean War. My father, his brothers, and all of his male first cousins served in combat. My father’s cousin PFC Irwin Handler, USMC, was 20 years old when he killed in action on December 5, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. My father served in the U.S. Air Force, flying combat missions as the bombardier on a B-26 Invader. He lost most of his hearing.
Long called “The Forgotten War,” news of the Korean War was censored at the time, and decades later its memory is far overshadowed in public consciousness by World War II and the Vietnam War.
It was not until July 1995, 42 years after the end of the war, that a memorial was finally dedicated in Washington, D.C., to those who served.
But my father and his family have never forgotten those who suffered and died fighting for Korea’s freedom, nor have the millions of Koreans and Korean-Americans whose lives and families were shaped, in part, by those three very bloody years of war.
Let us remember and honor their bravery and sacrifice today and always, as we continue to pray for a Korea that is united and free.