Korean War commemoration to be held Saturday
64th anniversary of the start of the conflict to be recognized at Wilsonville memorial
A commemoration ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 21, will commemorate the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War at the Oregon Korean War Memorial at Wilsonvilles Town Center Park.
The ceremony is being co-hosted by the city of Wilsonville, the Korean War Memorial Foundation of Oregon, the Korean War Veterans Association – Oregon Trail Chapter, the Korean Association of Korean War Veterans – Oregon and the Korean Society of Oregon.
Master of Ceremonies will be the Hon. Greg Caldwell, Honorary Consul of Republic of Korea. Meanwhile, the U.S. Armys 25th Division Association Color Guard will carry out the traditional posting of colors.
An invocation will be given by the Reverand Samuel Ahn of the Portland Central Church, while a wreath-laying will be done by the all the groups involved. Finally, a choir presentation will be performed by the Korean Elders Choir and a fly-over of Wilsonville done by the West Coast Raven Precision Flight Team.
June 25, 1950 is the date the Korean War began. Like many wars, however, one can trace its origins years back. After World War II the Americans and the Soviets divided the Korean peninsula in half along the 38th parallel in an attempt to divvy up former Japanese Imperial possessions. The Russians occupied the area north of the line and the United States occupied the area to its south, and the stage was set for the first of many Cold War confrontations.
As 1950 opened two new states had formed on the peninsula. In the south, the anti-communist dictator Syngman Rhee enjoyed the support of the American government; in the north, communist dictator Kim Il Sung had the backing of the Soviets. Border skirmishes were common; almost 10,000 North and South Korean soldiers were killed in battle before the war even began.
All the same, the June 1950 invasion of South Korea by the massed forces of the North still took everyone by surprise. Under authority of the fledgling United Nations, American and Republic of Korea forces fought back but were forced to steadily retreat south. The defenders were quickly pushed toward the port of Pusan, where the perimeter finally held.
At the same time, General Douglas MacArthur spearheaded an amphibious landing of American forces at Inchon near the South Korean capital Seoul. This immediately turned the tide of the war and forced the North Koreans on the defensive. UN forces led by American soldiers and marines advanced north, driving the North Koreans back.
In October 1950, however, China entered the war on the North Korean side and ended all hopes of a quick resolution of the conflict. Bitter winter fighting followed throughout North Korea, as American forces were forced to give back territory they had earlier conquered.
After stabilizing their retreat south of the 38th parallel by the following April, MacArthur was relieved of command by President Harry Truman and replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway. Ridgeway went on to lead another offensive that drove the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel, where the war entered a stalemate that never was broken over the final two years of fighting.
An armistice went into effect on July 27, 1953, but only after United States forces had suffered more than 33,600 battle deaths. South Korea recorded more than 373,000 civilian deaths and some 174,000 military fatalities.