Remembering the Forgotten War: Armistice Day, July 24


freedom houseJuly 24, 1953, the UN forces, a thin cover for the United States, and the Chinese, with their new client state the North Koreans, stopped shooting at each other across the Korean Demilitarized Zone. This year is also the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of the war, started when the North Korean communists launched a lightening strike south, nearly winning before the U.S. could get enough troops, with the right equipment, supply lines, and leadership into place. This was the first war of the nuclear era, with the Soviets and U.S. each possessing deployable atomic bombs. Neither the Russians nor the United States wanted to have done to their cities what we had done to two Japanese cities. This was an important condition underlying the unwillingness to seek total victory. Today, South Korea stands as a sharp rebuke to any who would excuse or romanticize communism. Children born during that war on the two sides of the line have had such different lives. The two societies from one people have diverged so markedly.

Here is the annual presidential proclamation, designating July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day:

Proclamation on National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, 2020
VETERANS | Issued on: July 24, 2020

Sixty-seven years ago today, guns fell silent along the Korean Demilitarized Zone after more than 3 years of brutal fighting to defeat the expansion of communism on the Korean Peninsula. On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we pause to remember the uncommon courage and sacrifice of ordinary Americans who fought to defend freedom and protect the values we hold dear. 

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. When the conflict began, Americans were still rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of World War II, enjoying the blessings of peace and looking toward a future filled with hope and prosperity. When freedom and democracy were under threat on the Korean Peninsula, however, 2 million Americans left their homes, put on our Nation’s uniform, and answered their country’s call to duty. Their resolve was tried and tested in once obscure and unfamiliar places, such as Pork Chop Hill, Heartbreak Ridge, Chipyong-ni, Pusan, and the Chosin Reservoir, and in unnamed locations known only by grid coordinates or hilltop elevations. Alongside tens of thousands of coalition troops from our allies around the world, these individuals fought, bled, died, went missing, and suffered brutal captivity to defeat a determined foe amid the harshest of conditions, including sweltering heat, bone-numbing cold, and deep snow that buried valleys and rugged ridgelines. Their unquestioned valor, determination, and patriotism halted communist aggression and restored liberty and dignity for the South Korean people. In our Nation’s Capital, the black granite wall of the Korean War Veterans Memorial stands as a testament to their sacrifice, etched with the words “Freedom is Not Free.”  In total, more than 36,000 Americans gave their lives in the Korean War, more than 103,000 were wounded, and nearly 8,000 went missing in action.

Today, the Republic of Korea, once decimated in the aftermath of the war, is one of the world’s most vibrant, dynamic, and economically prosperous democracies — and one of our strongest allies. Our Armed Forces continue to proudly serve side-by-side with our Korean military counterparts. This ironclad alliance, forged in war and reinforced by a shared love of liberty and deep ties of friendship, is vital to peace and stability in both Asia and the world.

As we commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, we renew our commitment to the principles of liberty for which our Korean War veterans so valiantly fought. We are eternally grateful for the families that endured the unimaginable sacrifices and heartache of war, and we are thankful for all the men and women who helped change the fate of a nation. The 38 months of bloody warfare represent the honorable legacy of a selfless and courageous generation of American patriots.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2020, 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.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

 Arizona’s (Republican) governor Doug Ducey did nothing to honor our Korean War veterans and their families. By contrast, Governor Ricketts (Republican) of Nebraska held a ceremony, livesteamed on Facebook, signing a proclamation at the state level. 

The South Korean government has agreed to allow the U.N. Command to use the Freedom House at the DMZ to commemorate the Armistice in a ceremony on Monday. 

The unification ministry has approved the UNC to use the Freedom House building located in the border village of Panmunjom for next Monday’s event marking the 67th anniversary of the signing of the 1953 Korean War armistice agreement.
“The improving COVID-19 situation in the Seoul metropolitan area and weather conditions were taken into consideration,” a ministry official explained.

More significantly, South Korea celebrates U.N. Forces Participation Day on July 27 to honor and teach their younger generations about the sacrifices made by others for them so many years ago.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that it is planning to hold various events to mark the day in cooperation with the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee under the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

U.N. Forces Participation Day was designated by the Korean government in 2013 to ensure that future generations inherit the legacy of sacrifice and contribution created by all service members from the 22 countries that defended South Korea.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey

    I was a year old at the time, so i didn’t have much of a chance to learn the truth about the Korean war then, and given the peculiar amnesia of college history departments, I haven’t heard much about it in all the interim years growing up. This is a wonderful post. Thanks, CAB. 

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  2. GrannyDude Member

     I wouldn’t have known about this, and definitely should: My dad got his purple heart in Korea. Semper Fi, Dad! I liked the mention of the families—Dad’s parents and sisters did indeed endure “the unimaginable sacrifices and heartache of war” when Dad was overseas, when he was wounded, and after he came home. I sent the proclamation to my kids, siblings, cousins and aunt—Thank you!

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  3. Rodin Member

    Korea changed the trajectory of my life. My father had been a flight surgeon and part of the Army Air Forces/USAF occupation of Japan. After being de-mobbed he set up a general practice in southern California like my grandfather before him. But he remained in the Reserves. When the Chinese/NORKs pushed to take over the Korean Peninsula, my father’s Reserve unit was placed in active status. Back in uniform his unit was moved to Miami, Florida. My Dad completed his tour there and then took a surgical residency at the local VA hospital and then established a surgical practice in Miami. So instead of southern California, I grew up in southern Florida. Two very different places; two very different lives.

    A few years back I visited the Korean War memorial on the Mall in DC. It is a moving tribute to the troops who fought and died there. In many respects it is a forgotten War. The Boomer Generation’s memories of Korea are indelibly shaped by the movie/television show M*A*S*H that was really a stand-in for Vietnam and not Korea. 

    Our history is carried in the  lives of those that lived it, and then in the chronicles of men and women who record it. But once those lives are gone, history is reliant on our willingness to read or watch the records and consider how it has shaped us. There is conflict in the memory, so no single account can inform us. But if we fail at all to bother to examine the record, then it is as if it never happened and the lessons it has for us cannot be taught.

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  4. CACrabtree Coolidge

    It’s worth it to take a look at all the incidents that have occured on the border since the signing of the Armistice.  For some reason, the “Axe Murder Incident” (1976) sticks in my mind just as much as the hijacking of the USS Pueblo in 1968.

    Just in three years (1966-69) there were a series of skirmishes along the DMZ and over 40 Americans were killed.  Since Vietnam was going on hot and heavy at the time, there was not a lot of mention of it in the press.

    I participated in a couple of the (formerly named) Team Spirit exercises and made a visit up to Panmunjom.  Not a place I would want to vacation at.


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  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist

    Mr. C’s dad was a Korean war vet. 101st Airborne Ranger medic. He and his brother, “Uncle Al,” served in the same platoon. Al was a sharpshooter. They both made it home — Dad with a purple heart for the shrapnel in his shoulder and chest; Al as deaf as a doorpost (no ear protection), but otherwise unscathed. 

    Dad had stories, as you may imagine, but, like most vets, he didn’t tell them often. The one from Ranger training that sticks out is they were tied to the backs of trucks at the waist and made to run behind the truck to see if it would provide incentive to run faster for longer. Ha! He was a tough old Okie thanks to his upbringing and the Army. 

    On one of their drops, the radio man asked Dad to switch places with him, putting Dad farther ahead in the jump sequence than his usual last place, where the radio man ended up. The pilot had to ascend a ridge and by the time the radio man jumped. . . he didn’t make it. 

    Dad also got caught behind enemy lines once and hid beneath the floorboards of Korean home as the enemy patrolled the area. The residents fed him rice and fish through the cracks until he could escape. Dad made a promise to himself to never eat rice and fish again, and in typical Ranger self-discipline, he kept it! He loved spicy food, but if the Mexican restaurant we’d take him to put rice on his plate — back to the kitchen!

    When he’d attend Ranger reunions, vets or their families would come up to him and thank him for saving their or their loved ones’ lives. He told the story of one Ranger who had his leg blown off and Dad put him and his leg on the chopper, but the guy threw his leg off the stretcher! Either he didn’t think he’d need it or he was delirious from shock and morphine. He survived, though with one less leg.

    Someone should make a Band of Brothers for Korean war vets before they’re all gone. Dad passed two years ago this last May. RIP old man.

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  6. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron

    Clifford A. Brown: Today, South Korea stands as a sharp rebuke to any who would excuse or romanticize communism. Children born during that war on the two sides of the line have had such different lives. The two societies from one people have diverged so markedly.


    Such a simple lesson. Clear as day. Yet, we once again have Marxists running loose spewing their lying propaganda. They confuse the young, the weak-minded, the resentful, the hopeless confluence of a multiplicity of chips on the shoulder obsessives.

    Yet, here is the proof as clear as day.



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