Something inside tells me to write this article because in September, we will hear the saying that resonates, “We will never forget.” Is that always so?
I am not so sure.
Arriving early for a 1:30 p.m. presentation on Sept. 1, 2015, at a nicely maintained building on 3rd Avenue in Lansingburgh, I met three memorable people — Marie Busher, Jim Busher (commander of the Northeast Korean War Veterans Association) and Tom Cook. As I looked on the wall of plaques, a voice came from behind me with “may I help you?” After an introduction to Marie, we started to bond and discuss things I was to speak about. I expressed my ignorance of the Korean War — no different than many other people. I stated to her that “The Forgotton War” was an unknown war to many people. She then retrieved a book and told me the story of how a war became known as “The Forgotten War.”
Many people tell me the youth today know very little of World War II, let alone the Korean War. When history labels the Korean War as “The Forgotten War,” how do we expect those veterans to feel as they enter the ripe age of their 80s? These veterans remained silent, heroic and proud.
Maybe the world was tired of a world at war after six years. Maybe a small Asian country fighting for freedom and democracy was minuscule compared to a world conflict. Maybe deep inside, only a few cared. It was called a “police action” and ended in a cease fire treaty, not a peace treaty. The United States sent about 90 percent of the foreign troops, and it was the first war that NATO played a role. Yet through it all, some 54,000 Americans died, over 103,000 wounded in action and 7,800 Americans are still unaccounted for as of June 2016.
“We will never forget.” Let’s focus on “do we really remember?” Some 63 years ago, there was a cease fire in a war in an Asian country that split between a 38th parallel on a map. About 150 years ago, our own country fought a war to prevent it from splitting. There are some people who don’t even know who fought the Civil War. Do we really remember North and South Korea? How about North and South Vietnam?
These veterans today comprise our large group of senior citizen veterans. An aging group of baby boomers are now mixed in with fewer WWII veterans of “The Greatest Generation.” These unsung Korean War veterans make up remarkable group that deserves respect, recognition and honor. Will we really remember?
In today’s world news, we hear of the North Korean leader making threats and testing nuclear missiles that get the public’s attention. My father used to tell us to do something and ended it with “now don’t forget.” May we all remember and don’t forget these proud, patriotic veterans of the “Unforgotten Generation.”
The people you meet, the history they bring and the memories are golden and forever.
Thank you, Marie and Tom. I will miss you, Jim.