Marvin's Window

Remembering the veterans of the forgotten Korean War

I looked out my window over the weekend and watched the flags furl in the wind and the fireworks marking the Fourth of July.

Our Independence Day is a family holiday that inspires local parades and community celebrations across America.

This is a holiday that has unique traditions in individual communities like no other holiday on the American scene.

It is hot dogs, watermelon, parades and fireworks.

Yet, we forget the sacrifices of the past 229 years that have brought us the freedoms and prosperity we now enjoy.

It has been a lot longer than that if we go back to the Pilgrims of 1620.

In this time of intense debate and strife over the war on terror and the fight in Iraq, we forget the past all too easily.

The loss of life in Iraq is a great cost to pay for our freedom, and those who oppose the war cannot connect it to the terrorist threat.

But that is another column.

South Korean soldiers are helping in Iraq, and three Koreans were kidnapped and killed by the terrorist forces.

The United States and other free nations are in constant negotiation with North Korea over the nuclear threat.

There would be no South Korea had the U.

S.

decided to sit on our hands when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea June 25, 1952.

It would all be one Korea with a dictator threatening the world with nuclear weapons.

But, President Harry Truman sent troops to the Korean police action.

He did have permission from the United Nations by June 27.

Korea had been divided at the 38th parallel following WWII.

The Soviet Union controlled the north and the U.S.

the south from September 1945 when hostilities with Japan ended.

The Soviets trained a North Korean army and went home in late 1948.

We left in June 1949.

We lost 36,000 troops in Korea, and 103,000 were wounded.

Beheading, torture and machine-gunning POWs by North Korean troops was common.

This country first learned about psychological mistreatment of POWs in Korea.

"Brainwashing" became part of the American language.

Korea and Vietnam were difficult wars because we feared that China or Russia would enter the hostilities.

In fact they did, but not openly.

Chinese troops did enter Korea and assist the North Korean army.

Iraq has no threat to our armed forces from China or the former Soviet Union.

Today, the history of the Korean War is more popular from the MASH series than from any factual account.

The borders were moved back to the 38th parallel when the shooting stopped in 1954.

Arguments began over the shape of the negotiating table, and we are still technically negotiating the peace.

Few Americans have any idea why we were there and most care even less.

Our school history books simply ignore Korea to save room for the Women's Liberation movement, astronaut Buzz Aldrin was quoted as saying.

He flew 66 combat missions in Korea and shot down two Soviet-built Mig-15 jets before he and Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969.

Aldrin is helping to build a library and museum to save the stories and artifacts from the Korean War.

A WWII memorial was finally dedicated this year.

Korea is still the forgotten war.

It took a change in definition of the conflict from police action to war for the vets to get battle ribbons.

One of my cousins was there early when our troops were pushed from the Yalu River in the north to the southern Korean ocean beaches.

A college fraternity brother joined his local U.

S.

Marines reserve unit so he would not have to go to Korea.

The unit was activated and he was on a ship to Korea before he was issued a rifle.

A high school buddy was training to be an electrician when he was drafted.

He was credited for apprenticeship time in the Army while he turned on the power at a base in Seoul each morning and turned it off at night.

President Harry Truman would not let WWII hero General Douglas McArthur go north into China to win the war.

That was one of history's great confrontations and again, a different column.

Today, South Korea is a prosperous democracy and respected member of the peaceful countries of the world.

They hosted an Olympics.

North Korea is one of the major nuclear threats and dictatorship full of starving people.

South Korea is a member of the United Nations and a strong partner of this country.

The cost of freedom is great in every generation.

Is the price too high? Maybe it is like paying taxes and it depends on who pays or who makes the sacrifice.

Or maybe the price of freedom is too high until it is lost.

I thank Buzz Aldrin and the others for helping us save the history of the fight for world freedom that was the Korean War.

It would be a tragedy if we were to leave the veterans and casualties of that conflict as forgotten as they are now.

Now is the time to build that historical museum and memorial to Korean vets.

Marvin Robertson is the Miner's business/city government reporter.