Learning to celebrate the end of war
The Commonwealth of Nations, including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, observe Remembrance Day at 11 a.m. on November 11. Germany surrendered and signed the armistice to end hostility “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” In Western culture, the end of the war is remembered as a time of hope and new beginnings, while the outbreak of a war is tragic.
In the East, however, war is remembered differently. In Korea, the Korean War evokes tragic memories - stories of refugees struggling to survive, children eating barley rice balls. People seem bored by the stories of the older generation, remembering when the capital city of Seoul was lost within three days of the North’s unexpected invasion.
Of course, we all understand how tragic and painful the Korean War was. However, it was also a proud victory as the Republic of Korea fought against the invading enemies with volition, courage and strategy. The Marines created legends of “the Devil Killers” and “the invincibles” through the Tongyeong Landings and the Mt. Dosol Battle. The Army’s Sixth Division pushed away the Chinese forces from Yangpyeong to Hwacheon Lake, and the lake was renamed Paro, meaning “the lake that defeated the barbaric intruders.” But the younger generation is bored by the endless seriousness and tragedy, when they have far more exciting music.
In England, the injured British Armed Forces Royal Marines who participated in the Falklands War join their former and current soldiers and families to run 12 miles in an annual charitable fundraising event called the Dartmoor Yomp. Sports bring different generations together to embrace the pains and wounds of the war. On July 23, nine Korean War veterans and three Vietnam War veterans left the United Nations Headquarters in New York on hand-cycles. The meritorious veterans will travel 630 kilometers (390 miles) to Washington D.C., displaying the iron will and indomitable human spirit that cannot be undermined even by the wounds of the war.
We should mark June 25 as the day we remember the war dead and July 27 as a day for sports and cultural events to overcome the pain of the past and make a leap to the future? We need to teach the younger generation that they are obliged to remember the pains of the war, but should transcend those wounds to open a new era of peace and hope.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by CHAE IN-TAEK