Remembering The Forgotten War
GAINESVILLE - Today marks 60 years since the end of what is often referred to as the "forgotten war." Local Korean War veterans say its one of the most memorable moments of their lives.
"All gave some. Some gave all." It's been 60 years since the Korean War armistice. Ken Sassaman a Korean War veteran recalls the very day it happened. "We were about a mile down the road from 105 artillery battalion and they were firing round after round... Almost like if there was an active attack going on right up until 10 o'clock and then at 10 o'clock it was like somebody pulled the light switch to silence. And to paraphrase the song that Simon Garfunkel made so famous... The sound of silence was the greatest sound in the world, cause you knew the war was over," Sassaman said.
The war lasted from 1950-1953 with North Korean and Chinese troops on one side against U.S.-led United Nations and south korean forces on the other. But then on July 27th, 1953 an armistice was signed. Don Sherry another Korean War veteran in Gainesville says this war is the reason millions of people live freely in a democratic South Korea. "A cease fire was signed, not even a peace treaty... That's a very tenuous cease fire, we thought at the time nobody ever really believed that would last... And here we are 60 years later and not a shot has been fired, so it did last," Sherry said.
Sassaman and Sherry are both about 80 years old and part of the Korean War Veteran Association. They just came back from Tampa where a monument dedicated to all Korean War veterans was unveiled. A war they say they will never forget. "So that's what the Korean War means to me it kept the Cold War cold and I think we would have a much different world if World War III had ever started," Sassaman said.
"It's commonly called the forgotten war... It's forgotten by us here in the United States. The Koreans have never forgotten it," Sherry said. Both veterans tell me they feel lucky to be alive today and be able to tell their story. As many other service members never made it back home. It's estimated that more than 36,000 Americans were killed in the conflict.