Korean War veteran: "We must not forget the sacrifices of our soldiers"Updated: 2014-06-25 21:56:32 (KST)
Around this time, every year
he can't help but think of his "brothers."
"Although we fought in the war together, there are those still living today, while others died young. It still breaks my heart."
87-year-old Lee Chun-rak shows me the names of some of his veteran brothers from the Korean War, engraved in the black marble walls at one memorial hall.
Lee's name is one of them.
Rewind, 64 years back. Lee was just a 23-year-old schoolteacher when he had to trade in his books for combat boots, as he was drafted into the war.
"Because they were short on soldiers, if you were young, you were enlisted into the army. That was September, 1950."
At his home, evidence of his time in the war are on the walls, in photographs and in letters.
One letter dates back to 1953, written by one of his closest compatriots in his platoon-- a U.S. soldier who went by the name "Smitty."
"There was an American soldier named, Smith. Kenneth Smith. We were together practically everywhere "
Once the war ended and after a few letter exchanges here and there, they lost touch.
He's been on the search for his American friend since then.
"How great would it be to see each other after all these years?/ When I see him, I want to tell him that we're more than just brothers."
Along with the memories of camraderie are also the harrowing memories of war, that not only left hundreds of thousands dead, but separated thousands of Korean families, once that 38th parellel was drawn and divided the nation.
Lee says he hopes the realities of the Korean War,
along with all the sacrifices that were made, will never be forgotten in the generations to come.
"The fact that our country exists today, is from the sacrifices of the Korean War veterans who put their lives at risk to protect this nation. We cannot forget that."
Connie Lee, Arirang News.
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