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about Korean War Remembrance Day

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Letter from Katherine Kang to Korean War Veterans / Photo / PDF version of letter

Dear Washington State Korean War Veterans, As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, I send my sincere gratitude for your service and friendship. I wanted to meet each of you at the special event our Korean American community has prepared for you, and give a “big bow” in my Hanbok as a token of our appreciation. However, our safety and health is are our priority so I am sending you this email as a master of ceremony for the 70thanniversary commemoration of the Korean War event.

For the last three summers, I have traveled to Washington DC to meet with my elected officials to advocate for peace in the Korean peninsula and issues around divided families. While in D.C., I always stop by the Korean War Veterans Memorial to remember the 1.7 million American men in uniform who participated in the war and the 28,500 US troops currently stationed in South Korea to maintain our democracy. As you know, the Korean War Veterans Memorial includes a Wall of Remembrance and the nineteen stainless steel statues commemorating the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. defending for a country they never knew and people they never met, like my grandparents. Like the population of Washington State, White, African American, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American are represented among the nineteen statutes.

While some say that the Korean War is the “Forgotten War” we remember your service and the 54, 246 killed in action, 103, 300 wounded, 8, 177 missing in action. Freedom is not free and we thank you for your service. As you know, I’ve read that Korean War was one of the most hard fought in our history. Due to our geographic location, Washington State sent the first stateside troops, from Fort Lewis, Washington. In a “stand or die” posture, the Second Infantry Division helped reverse the course of the war. In its first major battle, the Second contributed toward a victory as the allied troops pushed back North Koreans.

I have also learned that many of our Korean adoptee friends came to Washington as a result of kind acts by people like First Lieutenant Nichols, who remained in Korea for nineteen months to help the wounded as well as the fifteen hundred “GI babies” who needed a home. In addition to the babies, many Korean women also came to Washington with their American soldier husbands. As a result of their immigration, the Korean women created the Korean Women’s Association. Their service organization is still making an impact as they continue to fulfill transportation needs, translation services, and support to the women suffering from domestic violence.

The devastation of the Korean War encouraged Koreans like my paternal grandfather to seek a better life in Washington. My grandparents reminds me how much blood was shed to maintain our democratic country and echoes that, “Freedom is not free.” All because Americans “answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met,” I will learn about our history and teach others about our Korean American history. As a Korean American, I will maintain the friendship between Korea and the United States. Since the Korean War, the United States and South Korea have been the closest of allies. Your brave actions inspire me to help others and to continue to fight for democracy for all.

Sincerely, Katherine Kang June 16th, 2020