As a grateful Korean-American I have been for quite some time obsessed with getting recognition for our Korean War veterans, whom I am proud to call my "Grandpas." Afraid that many young people like me might not be aware, I am writing to invite them to salute America's 1.8 million-plus "Forgotten Heroes" as our nation commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Day on July 27.
These Heroes average age 85, and sadly many will not be with us for the 70th Anniversary. Already for too long, they have been largely forgotten by the public because the Korean War was sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War.
So every year my volunteer group, Remember727, holds an event in Washington, D.C., where at 7:27 p.m. we light a candle to pay tribute to their sacrifices and to hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is tragic that after six decades the Two Koreas technically remain at war and is the only divided nation in the world.
This year, we are hosting the 6th Annual Armistice Day Commemoration & Peace Vigil in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee. The official DoD ceremony hosted by Secretary Chuck Hagel will be held on the morning of the 27th; our "grassroots" event is in the evening, targeted to younger folks who know little or nothing about the "Forgotten War."
Our goal is for at least 727 people to participate in the vigil at 7:27 p.m. around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on July 27. While there will be special features, including an outdoor film screening, musical performances, and a massive photo exhibition, it is not easy rounding up a large crowd for a topic that seems so foreign.
This is why we are also organizing a PSY "Gangnam Style" flashmob. In essence, PSY symbolizes what the Korean War veterans fought for: Freedom. Thanks to their sacrifices, today's Korea has risen to become a world giant from ashes of war. Perhaps through the showcase of familiar Korean pop culture, even casual onlookers can be reminded that Freedom Is Not Free.
I am hoping that some of the readers around the nation, or even worldwide (as the Korean War involved the United Nations), might feel compelled to join our efforts in D.C. to honor the Korean War veterans by organizing a vigil, a Gangnam Style flashmob, or any event to commemorate the Armistice Day on July 27. It would not only be meaningful, but also historic to collectively celebrate the "Forgotten Victory" won by our Heroes.
As an aide to one of the four remaining Korean War veterans in the U.S. Congress, I am proud and thankful everyday of the heroism of my Grandpas. I am also pleasantly surprised when I discover that a friend's uncle or grandfather fought in the war. These Heroes are out there -- but for not too long.
So America: at the very least, I hope you would pause at 7:27 p.m. on July 27 to pay tribute to the Korean War veterans and remember their Forgotten Victory.
As Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel eloquently once said, "... And anyone who does not remember betrays them again."