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NEWS | July 17, 2014

Korean War Armistice Day honors the brave

By Airman 1st Class Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

July 27 is National Korean War Armistice Day, a national day of recognition to commemorate the more than 35,000 U.S. Service members who lost their lives during the Korean War.

The war began on June 25, 1950 when the North Korean People's Army crossed the 38th Parallel, which divides Korea into North and South. It ended on July 27, 1953 after the signing of the Armistice agreement.

The agreement was signed by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Harrison, Jr., who represented the United Nations Command and North Korean General Nam Il, who represented the Korean People's Army; and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army. The arrangement was designed to "insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved."

The armistice established the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a border between the two nations, enforced a cease-fire and finalized the return of prisoners-of-war.

This year marks the 61st anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

"We remember the troops who hit the beaches when communist forces were pressing south; who pushed back and fought their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold," said U.S. President Barack Obama in his 2013 National Korean War Armistice Day proclamation. "We remember ordinary men and women who showed extraordinary courage through three long years of war, fighting far from home to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."

Though the war claimed many lives, some benefits, to include advancements in technology and medicine, were made during the 37-month conflict.

"The Korean War thwarted the expansion of communism in Asia, introduced the helicopter to the U.S. Armed Forces, advanced the battlefield treatment of the wounded and saw the desegregation of our Army," said former U.S. Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal during a speech to commemorate Korean War veterans. "From that war, the Republic of Korea has emerged a vibrant democracy an economic giant in Asia and a strong, independent and respected voice among nations."

The president also stated in his proclamation that the Republic of Korea has made great strides over the years.

"This anniversary marks the end of a war," said Obama. "But it also commemorates the beginning of a long and prosperous peace. In six decades, the Republic of Korea has become one of the world's largest economies and one of America's closest allies. Together, we have built a partnership that remains a bedrock of stability throughout the Pacific. That legacy belongs to the Service members who fought for freedom 60 years ago and the men and women who preserve it today."

Obama continued to thank and honor those who had given their time and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect others.

"So as we mark this milestone, let us offer a special salute to our Korean War veterans," he said. "Let us renew the sacred trust we share with all who have served. And let us reaffirm that no matter what the future holds, America will always honor its promise to serve our veterans as well as they served us -- now and forever."