The Korean War is often called “The Forgotten War.” My generation remembers the Battle for LZ X-Ray at Ia Drang, The Tet Offensive, and Khe Sahn of the Vietnam War.
We were either there, or Walter Cronkite brought it into our homes every night. But there are no such memories of the frozen hell that would become the Korean War.
The Mountainside Marines from time to time take a bus trip to visit the memorials on our National Mall.
Our goals in taking these trips are to the honor and remember the courage and sacrifice of those who have gone before us; they are the ones that kept us free in our turbulent world. As a general rule we pay our respects at the World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Marine Corps War Memorials.
Our most recent trip was on 5 May. We were at the Korea and Vietnam Memorials. Jim Goldsworthy and I were walking from the Korea Memorial to the Vietnam Memorial.
As we were walking and talking, Jim spotted an elderly man wearing a well-worn Korea-Vietnam Veteran ball cap. We walked over to him; Jim shook his hand and thanked him for his service. I also shook his hand and welcomed him home. We continued the march to the Vietnam Memorial.
We hadn’t taken but a few steps when we overheard this forgotten warrior feel the effects of the emotion of the moment and began to choke up. His family assured him that it was all right.
We disappeared into the crowd. We surely hope that this veteran continued on to the Korean Memorial. This veteran’s service was remembered by someone.
We declared our independence from the British Crown in 1776. It took a long and bloody revolution to secure our freedom as a nation.
We were motivated to act by the printed and spoken word; but we earned our freedom on the battlefield, where shot and shell courage and sacrifice prevailed.
The sad truth of this story is that far too many of our veterans are forgotten by our fellow citizens. Family members are often the only ones that will remember their service.
But they can only remember their loved one’s service when their courage and sacrifice is known.
They sacrificed their youth, their physical and mental health, and sadly for some their very lives. They have endured horrors on the battlefields of the past and those of today that many of our civilian contemporaries can ever comprehend.
They deserve to have their service and sacrifice remembered at more than a memorial on the National Mall.