Pride and Honor in the Korean War Memorial

I know more about the American Civil War than my own country’s War for Independence. Sad but true. Having breathed and lived a full life in the military service, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for war epics and martial history. And I have a small library at home that consists mostly of military novelties, from books to films to portraits to souvenirs and other stuff. Ironically, I have more quality material on foreign military exploits in my humble collection. I guess it is because we have been somewhat remiss in chronicling our military history, even though there is certainly so much to offer.

In my latest trip to Seoul, I made it a point to once again visit the Korean War Memorial. Though I’ve been there twice before, I cannot help but marvel at how the Korean people have painstakingly portrayed the noble efforts of the heroes of the Korean War. It has thus become some sort of a pilgrimage for me – a gesture of respect – as I pay homage to those gallant men who died so that others may live.

The Memorial doesn’t just immortalize the Korean Forces, but includes all Allied contingents that fought under the UN flag at that time. And it makes me feel good to see that the Philippines was there to lend South Korea a hand during their time of dire need.

The Korean War Memorial is a proud bastion that feeds on – and continues to develop – the fierce determination and the strong nationalistic fervor that any self-respecting country must have. Thus, the Memorial chronicles the tears, the pain, and the gargantuan efforts of the men and women who have sacrificed life and limb, so that their younger generations may enjoy the benefits today.

As you walk around, you come across hundreds of dramatic anecdotes. Simple tugs at the heart – of families being torn apart, of mass evacuations and the horrors experienced by those who chose to stay behind, of soldiers dying for their comrades, of young students sacrificing themselves so that soldiers could escape and fight another day, of the womenfolk’s contributions in the total war effort, of commanders and units taking on tasks that they knew were suicide missions, and so on. These stories, aided by poignant pictures of devastation and death, and of the triumphs we celebrate, nourish that sense of pride and unity among the South Korean people.

But the Korean War Memorial not only serves to develop nationalism among South Koreans. It also offers opportunities for its commercial and cultural communities. It is actually a big boon to the tourism industry as thousands of foreign visitors come to visit and pay tribute to the heroes in the Memorial everyday.

If, by any chance, you have a trip to Seoul lined up, don’t fail to visit the Korean War Memorial. It is a trip worth making, a feast not just for the eyes, the head and the heart, but more so for the soul.

 

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6 comments

    1. to be honest, vic, not really. i am what you might call an accidental soldier. i had a cousin who was taking the exams for the phil mil academy (pma). upon learning this, my papa forced me to join him. lucky for me, i passed.
      months later, i was in pma as a plebe, rotting like hell. and i hated papa for that. it was only after a year in pma that i realized he was actually giving me a clearer, more definite path for my life. after that, i learned to embrace the service, and it in turn has been extra kind to me.

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  1. This is a great post, sir! I was searching for blogs about Philippine Army and I found yours. I’m still in the military service. Anyway, your latest trip to Seoul is really interesting. I’ve heard a lot of stories regarding the Korean War and how Filipino soldiers bravely fought during that time. If I will have the opportunity to go there, I will make sure I will visit that Korean War memorial, sir.

    Ranger Perots: A Wise Filipino Soldier

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    1. I’ve always maintained that we should invest in our military memorials and museums. Not only are they of great value in developing the sense of nationalism, the sense of pride among our youth, they can also be a source of revenue for the govt. I hope that in your lifetime in the service, you can help convince the powers-that-be that money spent on our military heritage is money well spent. If you look at the Korean War Memorial, if you get the chance to visit Gettysburg or Normandy or Masada in Israel, you will feel how these bastions of military heroism can galvanize their people, and make money on the side.
      On a personal note, good luck on your blogging. It’s good to have guys like you who can articulate how our soldiers think and feel.
      SR class 27 pala ako. Anong class ka na, iho?

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      1. I agree with you, sir.
        When our class was about to graduate last 2004, we were able to visit the Corregidor Island. I think it was one of the most famous war memorials in the Philippines, sir. We went inside the Malinta tunnel. There was a light and sound show inside as if you were there during the Second World War. It was a great experience. We also went to Mt. Samat National Shrine. Unfortunately, all these war memorials seem to be unknown to our younger generations, sir.

        By the way, I belong to SR Class 162-06 sir

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        1. We have to make our museums and memorials globally competitive. If our museums are existing just for compliance, that’s not in any way going to help develop pride and nationalism amongst our people. Let’s work together to upgrade our military heritage.

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