Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember your comrades-in-arms…
frozen stiff and piled on to trucks like sides of beef.
Truman sent American troops in to Korea in late June of 1950 trying to stem the tide of the Red Army sweeping in through the north. I still get people asking me if my family are North or South Korean. It’s irritating. People do not understand how much agriculture and industry was happening in the northern region of the country, and that before Kim Il Sung threw down his gauntlet and became ‘divine’, there were none of these North and South distinctions. The northern part of the country just happened to be the perfect point of entry for the Chinese (in cahoots with the communist Koreans) to draw out their bloody manifesto.
My father had the utmost respect for the American soldiers who came into his country to help repel these invaders who ultimately took everything from him and his family. Oh yeah, they took his family, too––off to labor camps where they would die. He felt indebted to these men, many who probably were not much older than him at age 17. He met a lot of them as working as a translator during the war.
I have to admit, I kinda thought he was glorifying these army guys (the whole White Knight bit) and the war a little. He never met a war movie he didn’t like.
But when I listen to old American veterans of the Korean War talk about being put on the ‘dead truck’ even though they weren’t dead or having their feet amputated because they were fighting shoeless in the snow for 8 hours or having to snap the frozen arms of their buddies so their bodies would fit on trucks, I get what my father was saying.
Certainly grilling and having picnics over this past Memorial Day Weekend may seem trite and belittling to sacrifices made by so many, or even selfish considering how many people cannot take part. But then again, I think commemorating and honoring those who fought––and still fight––and sacrificed for the tenets of freedom and free will by gathering with your loved ones is proof, albeit small, that the sacrifice was not in vain.
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade?
Will you say that we were brave as the shells fell all around us?
Or that we wept and cried for our mothers and cursed our fathers
For forgetting that all men are brothers?
–Billy Bragg, “Tender Comrade”