Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Korean War Memorial
July 29, 2000
I'm extremely pleased and honored to be here today.
I want to thank Consul General Byung-rok Moon, Senator Paull Shin, Colonel Kirk, and everyone else who is here today to honor the courageous men and women who served in the Korean War.
We have two anniversaries to remember and commemorate today. Fifty years ago this summer, June 25th to be exact, North Korea invaded South Korea to launch a difficult and bloody war -- a war we fought to keep the flame of democracy burning in South Korea. And 47 years ago, July 27th to be precise, the Korean War ended when the United States, North Korea and China signed an armistice. The armistice meant South Korea remained a beacon of freedom, free of domination from the North.
As we all know, the Korean War is sometimes called the "forgotten war." But it will never be forgotten by the tens of thousands of veterans of that war, and their families and friends.
Who were these men and women in uniform? They were called "Yank" and "GI" and "Swabby" and "Flyboy." They were "WACs" and "Waves" and "Leathernecks" and just plain "Joe."
Here at home, we had other names for them, like mom and dad, son and daughter, brother and sister.
For them, and for their families and friends, places with names like Inchon, Heartbreak Ridge, Pork Chop Hill, can never be forgotten. For the rest of us, our Korean War veterans who fought in those places must always be remembered.
Colonel Kirk reminded us that hundreds and thousands of men and women from 22 nations joined forces with the courageous people of South Korea to fight this war. I would like to remind all of us that among those who served were sons and daughters from our own state of Washington. Five hundred of those brave veterans paid the ultimate price for freedom. They paid with their lives.
And let us not forget that those among us who fought this war came from different ethnic backgrounds. Korean War veterans from our nation included Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Pacific-Americans, and Native Americans who faced hardships at home but believed in the universal dream of freedom and equality.
Each of those groups distinguished themselves, and each has members who received the Medal of Honor for their courage in fighting this war.
Let us remember today that 50 years ago, our nation and other nations in the free world went to the aid of the people of South Korea. Let us remember that 47 years ago, we helped secure that nation its freedom, a freedom that is every person's birthright.
Thank you very much.