Nation recalls fallen in Memorial Day services
Stressing the government’s commitment to remember fallen patriots, President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday that South Korea will patiently continue its efforts to induce the North onto a path of peace and prosperity.
Marking the 56th Memorial Day, the president and first lady, ministers and senior military officials attended a ceremony at the National Cemetery in Seoul yesterday. Diplomats, families of fallen soldiers and politicians also joined the event.
North Korea’s two deadly attacks last year served as an alarm for the South to reaffirm its readiness, Lee said, and urged the nation to come together to prepare for unification.
“The North must leave the path of confrontation and conflict and come onto the path of peace and prosperity,” Lee said. “To this end, we will continue our serious and consistent efforts with patience.”
The remark was an apparent confirmation that Lee will push forward with his North Korea policy, despite the latest missteps in inter-Korean relations. Pyongyang recently turned down Lee’s offer for a summit in a bombshell revelation of secret contacts with Seoul, claiming that top South Korean officials “begged” and offered bribes for three Lee-Kim meetings.
Before the Memorial Day ceremony, two brothers killed in the Korean War were posthumously reunited at the cemetery. The military recovered and identified the remains of the younger sibling, Sgt. Lee Cheon-wu, last year. Yesterday, his remains were buried in the grave of Staff Sgt. Lee Man-wu, his elder brother.
The presidential couple, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and other top military and government officials attended the ceremony.
The story of the brothers was first made public in April. According to the Ministry of National Defense, the younger brother joined the Army in September 1950, following his older brother. The two served in different units and sadly never encountered each other during the war.
The elder Lee was killed in action in May 1951, and four months later, the younger Lee was killed.
While the elder brother’s body was recovered and laid to rest in the National Cemetery in Seoul in 1960, his family was never informed. Their mother, without knowing the whereabouts of either of her sons, died in 1985. The military, then, recovered and identified the younger Lee’s remains in October.
“Today, I will name the brothers the protectors of our country,” Lee said in his Memorial Day address. “The motherland will never forget.”
Lee also said the nation will do its best to find the remains of all 130,000 fallen soldiers of the Korean War. He paid respects to Korean soldiers who died during their overseas deployments and to the 40,000 foreign troops of the United Nations who died during the Korean War to defend the South.
Following the ceremony, Lee visited the office of the Defense Ministry’s special team in charge of recovering remains. Lee was briefed by Col. Park Sin-han, head of the project, who said of the 130,000 soldiers classified as missing from the Korean War, the remains of 40,000 are believed to be in the demilitarized zone and in North Korea.
“Until we find the last remains, we must continue our work,” Lee said. “After unification, we will continue our efforts in the North.”
Since 2000, remains of 4,133 soldiers including 753 enemy troops have been recovered.
By Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [연합]
李대통령 "北, 평화와 번영의 길로 나와야"
현충일 추념사..'우리 역사 자랑스럽게 봐야 할 때'
'보훈제도 선진화에 최선'..유공자 맞춤형 지원
이명박 대통령은 6일 "북은 대결과 갈등의 길에서 벗어나 평화와 번영의 길로 나와야 한다"고 촉구했다.
이 대통령은 이날 동작구 서울국립현충원에서 열린 제56회 현충일 추념식에 참석, 추념사를 통해 이같이 밝히고 "우리는 이를 위해 인내심을 갖고 진지하고 일관된 노력을 계속해 나갈 것"이라고 덧붙였다.
아울러 "언젠가 올 한반도 통일에 대비해 우리 국민 모두 함께 힘을 모아야 하겠다"고 말했다.
이 대통령은 또 "무엇이 역사의 바른 길인가에 대한 논란도 많았다. 그러나 명암없는 역사는 없으며, 아랫돌 없이 윗돌이 올라선 역사의 탑은 없다"면서 "이제 우리가 성취해 온 성공의 역사를 자랑스럽게 봐야 할 때"라고 강조했다.
그러면서 "우리 미래 세대가 역사를 올바로 알아야 '더 큰 대한민국'으로 도약할 수 있다"고 말했다.
이 대통령은 "우리 대한민국이 지켜야 할 가치는 분명하다"면서 "책임있는 자유민주주의, 공정한 시장경제, 그리고 원칙있는 법치주의가 바로 그것"이라고 강조했다.
이 대통령은 "애국 선열을 기리는 것은 나라 사랑의 첫 출발이자 국가 통합의 초석"이라며 "정부는 '보훈제도 선진화'로 나라를 위한 희생과 공헌에 합당한 보상과 예우를 다하고자 한다"고 밝혔다.
이어 "취업과 교육, 의료와 주택 등 '맞춤형 지원'을 펼쳐나가고 보훈대상자의 고령화에 발맞춰 노후 복지 강화에 주력할 것"이라고 덧붙였다.