July 27 marks the 69th anniversary of the Armistice to cease hostilities on the Korean peninsula. Technically speaking, since no peace treaty has ever been signed to permanently terminate hostilities, the Allied nations and North Korea remain at war. Instead, the armistice signed on July 27, 1953 – an agreement to “temporarily” cease hostilities – remains in effect.
Approximately 5.7 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces served during the Korean War to defeat the spread of Stalinist-style tyranny on that Asian peninsula. Of those 5 million plus, some 37,000 made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom on the Korean peninsula. For three long years that war was fought in very rough terrain, under terribly hot and often frigid weather conditions, and against a Soviet-supported, well-armed, and committed enemy.
North Korea still maintains one of the largest, forward-deployed standing armies in the world. North Korea’s bellicose posture — coupled with its continuing development of ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction, and highly trained special operations forces — causes the Korean peninsula to be extremely volatile.
North Korea continues its long standing policy of disrupting the stability on the Korean peninsula and the Pacific theater, of undermining efforts to combat international terrorism, and of weakening the enduring and endearing alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America, an alliance forged on the battlefield and sealed by the lives of those who courageously fought to preserve freedom and democracy.
The Republic of Korea and the United States continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a combined effort to defend “Freedom’s Frontier” along the 38th parallel. Our two nations remain firmly committed to preserving the peace, prosperity, and liberty in the Republic of Korea.
Regrettably, the Korean War is often referred to as the “Forgotten War.” On July 27, I urge all Americans and Koreans to reflect on the sacrifices made by those brave individuals who defended Korea against aggression and oppression. Indeed, Freedom is never free.
John Di Genio