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Commentary | Oct. 27, 2009

Korean War veterans: I'm here because of you

By Airman 1st Class Sylvia Olson 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

I realized today that without our Korean War veterans, I would not exist. 

I was one of three Langley Airmen who volunteered to represent the Air Force at the Korean War Memorial in Virginia Beach. All military branches were represented at the service; all in service dress. Every seat in the ballroom was taken by a Korean War veteran, their spouses, or active-duty military personnel. 

The memorial service began with the pledge of allegiance and the "Star Spangled Banner", followed by the Korean National anthem. I felt a sense of pride during both anthems; I thought of both my Korean and American grandfathers who fought in the war and the hardships my Korean family had to face during the war. 

Fellow Korean-American and guest speaker, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Scott McBride, spoke about his adoption by American parents and a trip he made to Kunsan, South Korea to visit his grandmother and uncle. There were times he paused to fight back tears. His story touched me as I found myself fighting back tears, too. 

Lieutenant McBride humbly expressed his gratitude to the veterans for their sacrifice during the Korean War. He said their services helped end the war, which made it possible for South Korea to be a free country, and give Koreans and Korean-Americans hope in life. 

As I listened to Lieutenant McBride's story and heart-felt words, I felt a new level of respect and appreciation for the veterans and my grandfathers. Thanks to their sacrifice, South Korea is now a flourishing country, and its people are able to live without fear, just as we do in the United States of America. 

Their efforts are why I am here today, serving my country as an Airman, continuing to build upon the legacy of humble service established by those honored veterans who served in the Korean War.