President Obama put it perfectly when he said, "freedom is not free but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share."
Today, on the 60th anniversary of the conflict, the President is marking this Veteran's Day by remembering "The Forgotten War": Korea (1950-1953)
North Korea invaded South Korea and the United Nations jumped into the frackus backing the South in the first unified effort on the part of the free world to thwart communist aggression. President Truman mobilized American forces under the direction of General MacArthur. The U.S., beneath the UN umbrella, engaged in the first armed conflict of the Cold War as we faced down communism from the intervening forces of China and Russia.
The Korean Peninsula remains divided today and the U.S. still has over 30,000 troops stationed near the Korean DMZ. Inter-Korean relations have chilled to their lowest point in years under President Lee, a conservative who opposed providing aid to the North while it was developing nuclear weapons. Lately tension has been high after Washington and Seoul blamed North Korea for this year's March sinking of a South Korean ship, which killed 46 sailors.
Grandpa Kee was a Marine and he served during WWII and Korea, he and Grandma actually met during WWII shortly after she joined the Marine Corps as one of the first Women Marines. Grandpa never spoke of his time during the Korean Conflict. After watching the above clip, I can see why.
If you've visited the Korean War Memorial here in DC, you're often struck by your sense of "there-ness". You can see the emotion on the faces of the statues and look at those enormous packs they're carrying under their ponchos. But the thing I never imagined was how crazy cold it was in Korea. Having spent a little time at sea in Alaska, I can appreciate that terrible wet coldness that gets right down in your bones. At least I could take a hot shower and get warmed up enough to feel my hands and feet after my watch on the flybridge.
So often when we think about our deployed military we only think in the abstract. When you think about our folks serving in the Middle East you aren't feeling the heat shimmering off the desert floor or the sand stuck to the sweat on the back of your neck, in your ears, in your eyes...
So while we can't put ourselves in their place, we can remember the sacrifices, we can take a moment to really, really be grateful that they're out there right now paying most of our share, and we can say a little prayer that they come home safely.
Coast Guard Commandant Bob Papp noted in his Veteran's Day message to his Coast Guardsman that less than 1 percent of U.S. citizens choose to join the military. We are truly blessed in America to have an all volunteer service.
Enjoy your holiday today; men and women fought and died so that we could savor our freedom, to literally bask in it, and to possess it without acrimony. They also fight today - right this very moment - so that other nations will have the opportunities that we typically take for granted. So thank a soldier, sailor, or airman - they have chosen a profession that is working hard to retain the liberty that we love.
To steal a slogan from the National Guard: "Sleep Well Tonight Your U.S. Military is Awake!"