WASHINGTON (Yonhap News) ― A Korean War exhibit opened Tuesday at the Pentagon as U.S. officials endeavor to enhance public awareness on the historical significance of the so-called Forgotten War.
It is part of various programs to mark the 60th anniversary of the alliance between South Korea and the U.S., which dates back to the 1950-53 conflict.
The U.S. Department of Defense described the exhibit as a “lasting symbol” of its commitment to honor Korean War veterans and help educate the public about the Korean War for generations.
“We assure you that truly this dedication today, your efforts and your noble cause will live on,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said at a formal dedication ceremony held on the first floor of the Pentagon building in northern Virginia.
A big sign at the top of the exhibit reads, “Korea 1950-1953 The Forgotten Victory.”
Hagel noted many of U.S. soldiers were sent to Korea to fight alongside the South against the North, unaware of where the peninsula actually was. According to the U.S. government, 36,574 American troops were killed and 103,284 others wounded.
“Very few people knew where Korea was but yet in the scope of things, 60 years later ... (it was) just as important as any conflict we have been in,” Hagel said. “It had the most significant effect and consequence as the ROK (South Korea) still plays a key role as a very key ally maintaining peace, stability, security, in that part of the world.”
South Korea’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ahn Ho-young said the Korean War is no longer forgotten.
“It has been known in this country for too long as a Forgotten War. Now, we should be changing it to the Forgotten Victory,” he said, citing South Korea’s democratization and economic growth as well as the development of the Seoul-Washington alliance.
“Of course all of us in Korea, we feel very much proud about what we have achieved over the past 60 years, but what I wish to tell you this morning is this: that in Korea we know very well it was our achievement but at the same time it was the common achievement between Korea and the U.S.,” Ahn said.
On display along a corridor of the Pentagon are photographs, videos, maps and other materials pertinent to the Korean War as well as uniforms and weapons used during the war.
Fifteen monitors show photos and names of Korean War veterans.
The display has become a part of the Pentagon tour that is seen by over 250,000 individuals each year.
The project was sponsored by the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee led by Army Col. David Clark.
The committee is tasked with honoring the service and sacrifices of Korean War veterans, commemorating the key events of the war, and educating Americans of all ages about the historical value of the Korean War, according to the Department of Defense.