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Presidential Speeches

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye at the ceremony honoring the UN Korean War Veterans

Source : Cheong Wa Dae

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye at the ceremony honoring the United Nations Korean War Veterans on the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice

Fellow Koreans and distinguished guests from home and abroad,

We are gathered here today to honor the invaluable sacrifices of the United Nations Korean War veterans who lost their lives in defense of freedom and peace in the Republic of Korea.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Just a moment ago, I laid a wreath at the tomb of the two Hearsey brothers, who were Canadian Korean War veterans.

The younger brother joined the Canadian Armed Forces and fought in the Korean War first. Then the older brother followed suit out of concern for his brother’s safety and was killed in action. After a lifetime of missing his brother, the younger Hearsey left a will that he wanted to be buried beside him. At the tomb where the two brothers are buried together after 61 years apart, I renewed my commitment to never let their sacrifices be in vain.

As President of the Republic of Korea, I pay my deepest tribute to the dedication and courage of the Korean War veterans who came from afar and gave their lives for the freedom and peace of the Republic of Korea. All the United Nations Korean War veterans will live in our hearts and cherished memories forever.

We will never forget the 40,896 Korean War veterans from overseas who did not make it back home alive, including some 2,300 resting in peace here at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea. We will never forget the pain and sorrow of the parents and wives of the Korean War veterans, who sent their beloved sons and husbands to fight in this land, nor will we forget the countless number of brave warriors who dedicated themselves to the peace of the Republic of Korea.

My fellow citizens,

The Korean War was an enormous wound for the Korean people. Countless young people fell victim to it in their endeavors to safeguard liberal democracy. In exchange for their sacrifices, our country was able to secure freedom and peace.

When the North invaded the South on June 25, 1950, the United Nations wasted no time in determining to send troops. Young people from many countries across the globe fought to the death for the sake of the freedom of Korea.

Even in the midst of the ravages of war, the UN forces rendered help to the Korean people by establishing orphanages, schools and hospitals all over the country. Since the end of the war up until now, they have continued efforts in the interest of freedom and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

All their invaluable devotion and endeavors were never fruitless. Rising from the ruins of war, the Republic of Korea became one of the world’s dozen strongest economies over a relatively short span of 60 years. Once a recipient of international aid, the country has now emerged as a nation that provides assistance to many countries across the globe. On top of this, it now ranks second in the world in terms of the number of volunteers it dispatches overseas.

During my visit to the United States last May, I had a chance to meet with a Korean War veteran who lost his arm and leg at the age of 25. I was deeply moved when he said that he felt greatly rewarded at the news of Korea’s progress. In the days ahead, we will continue our efforts to build a nation that the Korean War veterans can take great pride in.

By furthering the progress of the liberal democracy that was safeguarded by noble sacrifices, the Republic of Korea will remain committed to contributing to peace in the international community and the wellbeing of the peoples of the world. Currently, it is active in all parts of the world, working for the cause of peace and providing development assistance as part of efforts to realize the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, which include safeguarding peace, facilitating economic development and promoting universal respect for human rights.

Korea is also continuing its work for international peace as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, taking part in efforts to resolve regional conflicts, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and eliminate terrorism and piracy.

In the developing world, Korea is assisting countries with their advancement by sharing the knowledge gained from its own experience of working toward and achieving success.

This country will continue to make active contributions to development in the international community and to larger efforts for peaceful coexistence and coprosperity. In this way, with our actions, we will honor the invaluable sacrifices of our veterans.

My fellow citizens,

The war may have ended 60 years ago, but the Republic of Korea remains today a divided nation, maintaining an uncomfortable peace. This land must never again be visited with the tragedy of war. And our young people must never again be sacrificed in its throes.

In order that we may build peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will ensure that our country maintains a solid deterrent capacity and readiness posture. Through close cooperation with the international community, I will urge North Korea to become a responsible member.

Even now, if North Korea were to abandon its nuclear program and make the right choice, I would work to carry out the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula and thus lay the foundation for peaceful unification and joint development of the South and North.

I hope that today’s ceremony will be a valuable time for us to pay our respects to those who gave their all for the cause of peace and freedom in this nation and to reaffirm the commitment of Korea and the nations of the world to building a future of peace and prosperity.

Once again, I express my deepest gratitude to the member countries of the UN forces and to the veterans here today.

Thank you very much.

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