Lest the Korean War be forgotten

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Lest the Korean War be forgotten


On Dec. 4, 1950, First Lieutenant Thomas Hudner was flying over the Changjin Lake in South Hamgyong Province. The U.S. Navy fighter pilot risked his life to land near a crashed fighter his fellow pilot had been flying. He tried to put out the fire on the fighter jet with snow, but he was unable to save the trapped pilot. Hudner received the Medal of Honor for his bravery and fellowship.

On July 26, one day before the 61st anniversary of the truce of the Korean War, Hudner, now 89 years old, was invited to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. The U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative stamps honoring the recipients of the Medal of Honor for their service in the 1950-53 Korean War.

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe honored the bravery of the U.S. servicemen who fought in the conflict and dedicated the stamp commemorating the Medal of Honor recipients.

Hudner expressed his appreciation for the recognition of their service by the U.S.P.S. and said that Korean War veterans fought off North Korean and Chinese forces to keep the Republic of Korea in the free world. He added that the United States does not neglect an ally under attack.

The U.S.P.S. officially published the Korean War Medal of Honor Forever Stamps. The stamp portfolio includes the stamps featuring the Medal of Honor as well as the photographs of 13 last surviving recipients. Corporal Tibor Rubin saved his regiment and was taken as a prisoner of war by Chinese troops. Hector Cafferata threw a grenade that fell on the entrenchment, saving the lives of his fellow marines, though he lost one of his fingers. Private First Class Ernest West shielded his commander when the unit was attacked and lost one of his eyes.

The third page of the portfolio lists the names of all the 145 Medal of Honor recipients. The U.S.P.S. honored the valor of the recipients of the highest military decoration as a four-star general would salute a Medal of Honor recipient.

Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo sent a message commemorating the ceremony.

“Some say that the Korean War is a forgotten war, but the Korean citizens have never forgotten the courage and sacrifice of the veterans for a moment,” he said.

But we need to ask ourselves who has forgotten. The United States commemorates the heroes of the Korean War with dedicated stamps in honor of its veterans, while Koreans are secretly concerned that talking about the Korean War might make them look outdated. Before telling Americans that we have not forgotten, we need to make sure we remember the tragic part of our own history.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 28, Page 29

*The author is a Washington correspondent for the JoongAng Ilbo.


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