July 27 is National Korean War Armistice Day
Today (July 27) is the National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. On this day in 1953, the Armistice ending active hostilities was signed. A tenuous peace has existed ever since.
The signing marked the end of the longest negotiated armistice in history: 158 meetings spread over two years and 17 days. At 10 a.m. that day, in Panmunjom, 18 official copies of the tri-language Korean Armistice Agreement were signed. At 10 p.m. that day the shooting stopped.
It is a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in a war that was sometimes dubbed "The Forgotten War".
According to the Department of Defense, 5,720,000 armed forces personnel served in the Korean War. Of those 35,651 died in battle.
Commander in Chief United Nations Command Gen. Mark W. Clark countersigns the Armistice Agreement at Munsan-Ni while Vice Admiral Joe L. Clark looks on. His signature finalized the agreement.
"We shall never forget the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice," President Joe Biden said proclaiming July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. "I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor and give thanks to our distinguished Korean War Veterans," he said in a statement, released by the White House.
The Korean War took place from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. It was a long, grueling war fought between the United Nations (the US being the leading force), who came to the aid of South Korea, and the communist North Korea. The war arose from the division of Korea at the end of World War II, along with global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards.
Today the Korean Peninsula remains divided along a 2.5 mile wide and 154 mile long demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Approximately 28,500 troops are maintained on the Korean Peninsula. The DMZ has been guarded continuously since the day the Armistice was signed.
"Our commitment to protecting peace on the Korean Peninsula has endured and grown in the ensuing decades. We are immensely proud of our historic friendship and the trust we share with the Republic of Korea," Biden said.
"The service and sacrifices of both our nations have left an indelible determination to sustain peace and promote regional stability," he added.
Biden noted that the armistice did not officially end the war but that South Korea still managed to thrive.
"The armistice made possible the exchange of prisoners of war as well as an opportunity to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Almost 70 years later, that settlement still has not been reached, and the Korean Peninsula remains divided along the 38th parallel," said the statement released by the White House.
AMVETS Department of Ohio welcomed Korean War veterans with open arms when they came home and many are still members to this day.
Below is the text of a letter of a Korean War veteran submitted to Commander Stuart Satullo in September of 1953.
"Korea a place where men die for the cause of freedom--hoping that some day the world will have peace. A place where great doctors, nurses, farm boys, millionaires' sons, soldiers and chaplains go to help people find peace and know what it means to go to church and believe in God. These men and women are great, are humble, but believe in peace and in the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever seen anyone die?
Have you seen a wounded man in agony, yet with a smile on his face for the doctor, the nurse of the Chaplain?
Have you ever seen men praying on the battlefield?
Do you know how it feels to get a letter from home, from Mother, Dad, Sis, Brother, or maybe your wife or sweetheart?
Have you ever seen a prison camp?
Have you eaten the little food they give you?
Then you the people of free America, be thankful for what you have.
Think what it is to be an American and have freedom of speech, and a government of the people, by the people and for the people."