President Obama today spoke eloquently about the sacrifices of the veterans of the Korean War, declaring the war a victory and not a stalemate and even offering up a little Reaganesque “peace through strength” rhetoric.
Obama, who spoke at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington on the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, said the veterans had preserved the freedom of the South Korean people, who were attacked by the North.
“That war was no tie. Korea was a victory,” he said, noting that 50 million South Koreans live in freedom and prosperity “in stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the north, that is a victory, and that is your legacy.”
He said the US “commitment will never waver” in South Korea.
Obama spoke beneath an enormous “Heroes Remembered” banner, as flights into Reagan-National flew behind him every few minutes.
He noted that for many Korean War veterans, homecoming was something of an anticlimax. “Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country. These veterans did not return to protest,” he said. Nor were they welcomed as heroes, as those who’d fought in World War II had been. And the memorial itself was overdue.
“Here in America, no war should ever be forgotten. No veteran should ever be overlooked,” Obama said.
He spoke poetically of the cold and mud, of Pork Chop Hill, gallantry and the dark humor of war – a mixup involving mortar rounds and Tootsie Rolls. He spoke of those lost and captured.
“Our POWs from Korea are some of the strongest men and women our nation has ever produced,” he said.
And then he said something I haven’t quite heard before from him.
On days such as this, you’re back there once more. For Korea was the fire that helped to forge you . . . your lives hold lessons for us today. Korea taught us the perils when we fail to prepare. After the Second World War, a rapid drawdown left our troops poorly equipped.”
That lesson, he said, teaches that the US must maintain the strongest military “bar none.”
Peace through strength? Obama? We’ll see.