War has forever altered my family.
When the Korea War broke out, my father’s parents were living in the northern part of the peninsula. As conflict ripped across the land, they fled south, leaving behind homes, possessions, family. Even now, I may have relatives living in North Korea. Cousins, aunts, uncles, family members whose names I may never know and who may well be dead.
The Korean War shaped the face of modern Korea, its boundaries, institutions, and ideologies. Yet I will confess to a wholesale ignorance of the war. When I visit South Korea, it takes effort to remember that only 60 years ago, the country was torn apart by war.
Once, I was walking through a mall with my dad when we ran into a veteran. He was around his 60s, Caucasian, wire-frame glasses and a “KOREA VETERAN” cap perched on his head. My dad stopped the man and asked if he served in Korea. When he answered in the affirmative, my dad thanked him for his service. He said that the man’s sacrifice meant a lot to him and other Koreans.
There is a lot that can be said about the Korean War, especially regarding the impact that other countries, including the US, played in the conflict and its aftermath. Yet today on Veterans Day, I want to give my thanks for all who served, in the Korean War and in all other conflicts. Thank you.