HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Melanie Yamaguchi
The Korean War ended 60 years ago, but a memorial service held Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific proved that those who fought in the war would never be forgotten.
As part of a series of events in the U.S. for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the Republic of Korea government donated a commemorative stone to Korean War veterans, unveiled at the memorial service.
Park Sung-choon, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said the stone represented strong ties between South Korea and the U.S.
"I believe that the commemorative stone dedicated today will become a landmark where the Korean government and people remember and appreciate what the U.S. veterans have done for us and become a symbol of the ever-deepening Korea-U.S. alliance," Park said.
With the support of the U.S. during the Korean War, he said, the Republic of Korea achieved independence and remarkable economic growth over the past 60 years.
"The Korean government and our people have never ever forgotten the sacrifice and dedication of the U.S. government, American citizens, and you, the war veterans," Park said.
He added that recent nuclear tests in North Korea are an attempt to alienate Korea from the U.S., but South Korea's relationship with the U.S. would prevent that.
"Our blood-tight alliance can never be severed by North Korea's tactics," he said.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said there is a special trust and friendship between South Korea and the U.S. because so many young people fought side-by-side during the Korean War of 1950 to 1953.
"Today, on this hallowed ground, we recommit ourselves to remember with deep respect and gratitude what the Korean people have never forgotten," Shinseki said.
Nobody would forget the more than 54,000 Americans who died in the Korean War to preserve freedom on a distant, war-torn peninsula, he said. But nobody would forget the services of those who made it out alive either.
Korean War veteran Goro Tengan, who attended the memorial service, said he remembers the war as a terrifying experience.
"When we were fighting there, I got charred on my leg and after that, I got rotated home," he said. "I'm thankful I came back alive."
The commemorative stone will be placed along Punchbowl's Memorial Walk.