In 1950, just a few years after World War II ended, our country went to war again. But they didn’t call it war. The Korean Conflict, as it was known then, was the result of Communist North Korea invading South Korea with 75,000 troops in June 1950. The country was divided into two after the war to keep peace with the Soviets, and was a symbol of the conflict between good and evil. Unprepared to deal with such overwhelming force, South Korea requested help from the Allies.
Though fighting another war was the last thing America wanted to do after losing so many of our troops in WW II, our leaders stepped up and led the fight against Communist dictators. President Harry Truman said, “If we let Korea down, the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.”
The US sent troops in July 1950, among them was my Uncle Ray Steele. Another was my next-door neighbor in Crab Orchard, West Virginia, Donald Trent. By November 1950 Donald Trent was missing-in-action (MIA) and for more than 50 years, no one knew his fate.
In 2007, the Boston Herald reported that the remains of two American soldiers had been recovered in Korea in 2000 and were identified through dental records and DNA testing. Donald Trent’s remains were finally back in America, 50 years after his death. In October 2007, my sister and brother-in-law Nancy and Ed Cook met Donald’s siblings Reginald and Willis Mae Trent and attended the burial ceremony in Arlington Cemetery. Before her mother died, Willis Mae had promised that she would never give up the search to find her brother.
Uncle Ray returned from Korea, and went on to serve in Vietnam, and various other places. He later became a Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs in the Pentagon. In 1972, during a visit to the US by King Hussein of Jordan, Uncle Ray’s body was found in his car. Most likely, he was assassinated, though it was staged to look as though he had suffered a heart attack.
These two men and their families are examples of the great sacrifices made by thousands of families to ensure freedom around the world. Freedom is never free! Thank you, veterans, for your sacrifice and years devoted to ensuring freedom.
To quote President Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”