중앙데일리

[EDITORIALS]Our heroes deserve better

June 18,2003
What does Korea mean to those who dedicated their lives during the war? We ask this question again because, while the anniversary of the battle in the Yellow Sea last year is just around the corner, the government has neglected its heroes. The kin of the sailors who died in the clash received letters of condolence from the commander of the UN Forces in Korea and the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, but they have been forgotten by the defense minister and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not to mention the president and the prime minister.
Their behavior would not a surprise, if we recall their shameless absence from the funeral of sailors who perished in the battle. It is a shame to learn that, while our government did nothing, American defense officials comforted the families who lost loved ones. Considering this lack of propriety, can we say that we have a government? Will the victims’ souls rest in peace in the face of such gross negligence?
When we recall the circumstances of the battle, we feel even more heavy. On June 29 last year, when the whole nation was seized by World Cup fever, a naval engagement between a Korean vessel and North Korean patrol boats took place, killing six sailors and wounding 18 others. The clash was not incidental, but a provocation by the North Korean military. Around the same time two school-girls were crushed by a U.S. military vehicle. If only one-tenth of the attention paid to the girls were given to the war heroes, the bereaved families might not have such enormous feelings of alienation and grief.
With the first anniversary of the battle just a few days away, one piece of good news is that Lieutenant Lee Hi-wan, who was wounded in the encounter, has returned to duty after one year of rehabilitation with an artificial leg. He has to forego his dream of being a skipper, but he is happy to return as a researcher at the Korea Navy Academy. His high-spirited attitude is an inspiration for contemporary heroes. The government must enhance the noble spirit of war heroes and take care of their families. That is the minimum the government should do for them.


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