The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea reinforces the important lesson of Memorial Day: Freedom comes at a very high cost. The DMZ, the final frontier separating liberty from tyranny, serves as a grim reminder that the acrimonious flames of the “Cold War” have yet to be fully extinguished.
Some seventy years ago, on June 25, 1950, well-equipped military forces from North Korea invaded the South. Consequently, led by the United States, the Allies responded to the North’s aggression. By the time the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, about 37,000 U.S. service members had died to defend and secure freedom on the Korean peninsula. Their ultimate sacrifices were not in vain!
Today, the Republic of Korea stands as a testimony to their sacrifices. The Republic of Korea is a miraculous success story! Antiquated infrastructures have succumbed to modern technological developments. Parochial economic systems have acquiesced to expanding interest and active participation in international markets, to the extent that the Republic of Korea has the 12th largest economy in the world. Without the hardships endured by U.S. military members valiantly executing their duties, South Korea would have been denied the opportunity to emerge as a free, prosperous, and self-determined nation.
Memorial Day is a time of — and for — solemnity to honor those who gave their lives while serving the nation. Over the years, we have corrupted this day of reverence into an extended holiday weekend. On Memorial Day, we should remember the valuable lesson of the Korean War: Freedom is never free. We should take time to reflect on those brave individuals who died so we can continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty, peace, and freedom.
John Di Genio