EDITORIAL: Korean War vets earned respect

Designation of special day for Korean War veterans honours remaining soldiers and their families

We were heartened recently upon hearing Canadian veterans of the Korean War were finally to be recognized with their own day of remembrance.

The Year of the Korean War Veteran was proclaimed by the federal government in January of this year, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the armistice signed in 1953.

But the enactment of a special day, July 27, to be marked in perpetuity to honour the sacrifices and efforts of Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel, has more long-term significance.

In all, 516 Canadians died and another 1,558 were wounded in the three-year conflict, a battle between the Soviet and China-supported north, and the south Koreans, supported by the United Nations, some of the member countries of which waged war against the Nazis just a handful of years previous.

Stories retold by local Korea vets of surviving family members receiving little in the way of acknowledgement of their sons and daughters’ sacrifices from the Canadian government were both shocking and embarrassing.

Media of the day largely ignored the conflict, to the point where many Canadians back home didn’t realize their country was playing a combat role in the war-torn region.

Luckily, things have changed in 50 years, including the treatment of veterans and the value we place on their role in maintaining peace and reducing chaos in the world.

Most wars in which Canada has been involved have aimed to achieve a political end for the greater good. The people on the front lines working to accomplish that aim – some of whom paid the ultimate price –  deserve to be recognized for their efforts, which in the vast majority of cases are honest, true and patriotic.

Regardless how one feels about war, the Canadians who have fought them have, at the end of the day, worked to protect the rights and freedoms we should never take for granted.

For that, they deserve our thanks.

 

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