More than a hundred veterans, family members, and friends attended the Korean War Memorial ceremony June 25 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
During the service, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann declared June 25 Korean War Remembrance Day, and reminded attendees Hawaii has never forgotten about the veterans’ sacrifices.
“It’s more than just a proclamation,” he said. “It’s about making sure we never forget.”
North Korea’s recent surge of controversial actions amplified the memorial’s importance, said retired Navy Adm. Richard Macke, former commander, U.S. Pacific Command.
Macke described the war as sudden and unpredicted, but necessary to ensure Republic of Korea’s freedom and future democracy from the communist north.
“The North Koreans are batting a thousand – total failure,” he said “However, our military is always ready. These guys are good.”
North Korea’s withdrawal from the Armistice agreement in May 2009, along with other militant initiatives, stirred a distant memory of civil unrest for many of the South Korean veterans present, said Jimmy Shin, president, Korean War Veterans Association, Aloha Chapter and South Korean Veteran.
Shin described his fondness and appreciation for the U.S. military, especially Marines, as limitless. The memorial is always very important to South Korea, let alone veterans, and with all North Korea’s recent actions - it only magnifies those emotions, he said.
“Every year, I’m crying,” Shin said. “Thousands of U.S. Marines they give their life. We remembering Marines today.”
“Today, there couldn’t be South Korea,” he added. “There would be no [South] Korea, without U.S. help. They wouldn’t be here.”
Shin said his main priority as chapter president is to inform the younger South Korean generation of the sacrifices made for their country. He said it’s important they know how much the U.S. supported them so they could be free.
South Korean veterans weren’t alone in remembering the Korean War’s demanding toll, and the sacrifices needed to succeed.
The ceremony was very well done and showed veterans there are thought of and honored, said Vince Souki, a 79-year-old Honolulu native who served in Pusan with “Triple Nickel,” 5th Field Artillery, Regimental Combat Team 5.
“I’ll say one thing about the [South] Koreans though, they really do appreciate America’s help,” he said. “The ceremony is always very important to me and other veterans. But, we can tell how much it means to [South Korean] veterans every year with their support and gratitude."
Hawaii lost more service members per capita in the Korean War than any other state.