Resolved — significance of 60
By Hannah Kim
The news of President Obama's signing of a Congressional joint resolution that recognizes the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and reaffirms the U.S-Korea alliance sorely sank below the announcement of U.N. Security Council's condemning of the Cheonan naval sinking.
While I fathom the critical matter of the latter, it bothers me to see the U.S. enactment of a bill pertaining to Korea go so sorely unnoticed.
To put it into perspective, out of the nearly 14,000 bills introduced in the previous (110th) Congress only 449 (about 3.3 percent) of the bills were actually signed. Unlike simple House or Senate resolutions, a joint resolution is just like a bill and carries the force of law.
Authored and initiated in the House by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a decorated Korean War veteran, the resolution transcends political rhetoric and warrants a closer reading. It flows as a story that's worth learning in its entirety, so here it is in layman's terms as retold by me:
``On June 25, 1950, communist North Korea invaded the South with approximately 135,000 troops, thereby initiating the Korean War; on June 27, 1950, President Harry Truman ordered the U.S. Armed Forces to help South Korea defend itself against the North Korean invasion; the hostilities ended in a cease-fire marked by the signing of the armistice at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953, and the peninsula still technically remains in a state of war;
During the Korean War, approximately 1,789,000 American men and women served in theater along with their comrades in South Korea and 20 other nations under the U.N. flag to defend freedom and democracy; American casualties included 54,246 dead (of whom 33,739 were battle deaths), more than 103,284 wounded, and approximately 8,055 listed as missing in action or prisoners of war;
The Korean War Veterans Recognition Act was enacted on July 27, 2009, so that the honorable service and noble sacrifice by the Korean War veterans will never be forgotten; President Obama issued a proclamation to designate July 27, 2009, as the National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day and called upon Americans to display flags at half-staff in their memory; Since 1975, the Republic of Korea has invited thousands of American Korean War veterans to revisit Korea in appreciation for their sacrifices;
In the 60 years since the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korea has emerged from a war-torn economy into one of the major economies in the world and one of America's largest trading partners; it is among America's closest allies, having contributed troops in support of U.S. operations in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, while also supporting numerous U.N. peacekeeping missions throughout the world;
Since the end of the Korean War era, more than 28,500 American men and women have served annually in the U.S Forces Korea to defend South Korea against external aggression, and to promote regional peace; North Korea's sinking of the Cheonan naval ship, on March 26, 2010, which resulted in the killing of 46 sailors, necessitates a reaffirmation of the U.S.-Korea alliance in safeguarding the stability of the Korean Peninsula;
From the ashes of war and the sharing of spilled blood on the battlefield, the U.S. and South Korea have continuously stood shoulder-to-shoulder to promote and defend international peace and security, economic prosperity, human rights, and the rule of law both on the Korean Peninsula and beyond; and beginning in June 2010, various ceremonies are concurrently being planned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and to honor all Korean War veterans.
Be it resolved _ that the U.S. Congress 1) recognizes the historical importance of the 60th anniversary of this occasion; 2) honors the noble service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces and the armed forces of allied countries that served in Korea since 1950 to the present; 3) encourages all Americans to participate in commemorative activities to pay solemn tribute to, and to never forget, the veterans of the Korean War; and 4) reaffirms the U.S. commitment to its alliance with South Korea for the betterment of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula."
Cleary, this resolution should induce a reciprocal response in Korea. Nothing seems more fitting than for President Lee Myung-bak to issue a proclamation to fly the flag at half-staff in Korea on July 27 (Armistice Day), as it will be flown in America ― as it did last year.
As ``Thank and Honor" is the motto of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs' 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, the concurrent flag display will buttress Korea's efforts to thank its allied nations as well as honor all those who made sacrifices for Korea.
Most significantly, it'll be a somber and sobering reminder that the Korean War ― after 60 years ― is still unresolved.
Hannah Kim is a 2009 master's graduate at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, specializing in legislative affairs. She spearheaded the passage of the ``Korean War Veterans Recognition Act, U.S. Public Law 111-41," which was signed by President Obama on July 27, 2009. She can be reached at email@example.com.