Monday, July 20, 2009

The Power Of Words Part II and of a Korean War Memorial... in Northern Ireland

This past weekend I was in Belfast, Ireland on what I'd like to say was an epic adventure. While I was enjoying the sight of:

I came across this:

If you can't see the words, this is what it says:


the Officers and Men




Who lost their lives



and especially those were killed

under(?) this place


3rd - 4th January 1951."

Here I was in a rather small capital of Northern Ireland, which is still and probably always will be a part of the United Kingdom --an opinion of which I don't have. But anyways, it's a city hall! And, on the grounds of this city hall (it's a small city with a population of some 267,500 according to the NISRA), there's a memorial that dedicates the lives of those that fought and died in Korea nearly sixty years ago.

All because of the words of one man -- Harry Truman (who single handedly decided to intervene in the Korean War; again, I can't remember where I read it, but there was a declassified CIA document that an article cited that even had if Soviet spies had access to all CIA information at the time, they would've discovered that nobody in the CIA establishment would've believed the U.S. would fight a war in Korea). So, it was basically Harry Truman, who singlehandley decided that there would be this memorial to the dead on the grounds of a city hall in Belfast!

And, especially, at the behest of the United States, and one man at that -- who got the United Kingdom, got these British -- no, these Irishmen to go and fight halfway across the world. They went all the way to the Far East -- in Korea (Where?). Anyways, I guess what makes this so particularly sad is the thought: is there no better place to pay respects to the fallen Irish soldiers (without calling them British) than on the grounds of a city hall?!

You see I had no idea any Irishmen fought in the Korean War or the Coalition of the Willing 1950s version, but to me it strikes a parallel with those Koreans who fought for the Japanese Empire during World War II. The sad thing is that these Irish who fought on behalf of the United Kingdom, who then fought on behalf of the United Nations by request of the United States doesn't even get proper recognition.

"British casualties were 1,078 killed in action, 2,674 wounded and 1,060 missing or taken prisoner" ("The Korean War: An Overview" : BBC).

Or, the first Korean, who won a gold medal at the Olympics, but had to do so as a "Japanese citizen" or the first "Japanese" graduate of Stanford who couldn't use his Korean name. Not quite sure how I went from the Korean War to Stanford to the Olympics, but anyways... That's what I felt when I saw that yesterday morning.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry but most of these guys would consider themselves British , Ulstermen, Northern Irish ...the regiment is the Royal Ulster Rifles