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The Battery

The Daily Plant : Thursday, July 31, 2003


This past Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the Korean War in 1953. The three-year war, which resulted in the formation of the Demilitarized Zone and the division of Korea into two separate countries, also led to the deaths of almost 900,00 soldiers and the killing or wounding of more than two million civilians.

To commemorate this moment in history and to remember those who lost their lives in the conflict, the United War Veterans Council of New York County, led by President Vince McGowan, held a ceremony at the Battery Park Korean War Monument, dedicated in 1991. As part of its mission, the United War Veterans Council, made up of representatives from all major veterans’ organizations in the region, conducts ceremonies honoring those who served their country in the Armed Forces in both war and peace.

Last Sunday’s commemoration was well attended, with more than 150 people making their way to the tip of Manhattan to witness the solemn ceremony. Congress Member Charles Rangel, a Korean War Veteran, Council Member Alan Gersen, who served in the Judge Advocate Generals Division, Parks Inspector Frank Acquaviva, also a Korean War veteran, and Parks & Recreation’s Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro all attended.

At the ceremony, Congressman Rangel movingly recalled the difficulties of serving in a foreign country and the battles which took so many lives. He emphasized that, while the Korean War is often regarded as the forgotten war of the twentieth century, many soldiers made the greatest of sacrifices. The Korean War may not register at the center of our nation’s collective conscience, but it will never be forgotten by those who lost loved ones and those who served.

A representative from the Republic of South Korea who also fought in the war expressed eloquent appreciation to the many countries that fought alongside South Koreans. In addition to the United States, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey and other member states of the United Nations took part.

Vince McGowan underscored the importance of the war to history and to the present day. "Fifty years after engaging in an international conflict on the Korean peninsula to secure world peace and democracy, the United States and the United Nations are still working to find our way through the tangle of human failure and greed. Korean War Veterans, as their comrades before and after them have learned, know the price for freedom is very high and that the rewards are elusive. All who serve our county give some measure of themselves to our cause. Some who serve our country give their all. Our grateful Nation must never forget the sacrifices made by the few for the good of the many."

Also present at the commemoration were a Korean music troupe and three members of the Uniformed Services Organization (most famously represented by the late Bob Hope). The three ladies from the USO, clad in red white and blue, sang the national anthem and a medley of other songs saluting the different branches of the Armed Services.

Written by Dana Rubenstein


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Matthew Arnold


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