REMEMBERING OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS
by Cadet Kevin Moon
As I scrolled down a list of military police officers on a display screen, I half expected to see the name of “Samuel Moon” on that list and read a biography of my grandfather. I respected that man for serving his country as a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and it’s without a doubt he was an inspiration to my military endeavors.
While taking those first couple steps into the Korean War Memorial Museum right outside Yongsan Army base in South Korea, he was the first person to leap into my thoughts.
Right outside were very realistic replicas of airplanes, boats, mortars, naval guns, and other large scale weaponry and equipment–so realistic to the point you would think that they were simply worn down versions of the real thing. Maybe they were, but I really couldn’t tell you the difference.
I walked around the outer courtyard and eventually ventured into main building. The museum in its entirety was enormous. It goes to show how much the Korean people were affected by this war. I continued to wander aimlessly and witnessed numerous names of Korean soldiers who died in battle, Korean soldiers recognized for bravery, and others who made selfless sacrifices to show the patriotism and love they had for their own country.
Koreans in general are brave and very hard working individuals, and I say that from pure observation, not from any bias emerging from my ethnicity. It didn’t surprise me to see so many recognized heroes. But as you ventured down further, you continued to see endless displays of the weapons they used, tactics, and up-close footage of the war itself.
It saddened me when I curiously peeked into a little dark room to see one old man crying as he watched black and white footage of South Korean soldiers in the midst of a violent firefight. Back 50 years ago, the soldier being shot may have been that old man’s best friend, and the thought of that is simply heartbreaking. But I continued on.
The museum seemed endless and after two hours of exploring, I may have experienced half of what they had to offer. There were special theaters, K2 rifle shooting simulations, 3D rides, and even a children’s playground at the bottom. And not all of the museum was about the Korean War. Exhibits dated back as early as the paleolithic era where stone daggers and spears were considered lethal weapons. All in all, it was a fulfilling experience.
It saddens me that South Korea had to endure so much hardship with its hostile neighbor, but if anything, it made the country stronger as a whole. They are fully capable of sustaining themselves now, and the U.S.’ strong presence sometimes misleads people to believe that they are helpless. But they are not. We are here to strengthen the bonds of the alliance we have, and in case the North Koreans instigate another attack, I think we are here to show we will defend our Korean brothers and sisters.