On Saturday, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will join a South Korean delegation on the National Mall to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
On Friday, both men issued statements honoring that generation of servicemembers as heroes and selfless servants:
Obama: “We remember the troops who hit the beaches when Communist forces were pressing south; who pushed back, and fought their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. We remember ordinary men and women who showed extraordinary courage through 3 long years of war, fighting far from home to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.
“Most of all, we remember those brave Americans who gave until they had nothing left to give. No monument will ever be worthy of their service, and no memorial will fully heal the ache of their sacrifice.
“But as a grateful nation, we must honor them — not just with words, but with deeds. We must uphold our sacred obligation to all who serve — giving our troops the resources they need, keeping faith with our veterans and their families, and never giving up the search for our missing and our prisoners of war.
“Our fallen laid down their lives so we could live ours. It is our task to live up to the example they set, and make America a country worthy of their sacrifice.
“This anniversary marks the end of a war. But it also commemorates the beginning of a long and prosperous peace. In six decades, the Republic of Korea has become one of the world's largest economies and one of America's closest allies. Together, we have built a partnership that remains a bedrock of stability throughout the Pacific.
“That legacy belongs to the service members who fought for freedom 60 years ago, and the men and women who preserve it today.
“So as we mark this milestone, let us offer a special salute to our Korean War veterans. Let us renew the sacred trust we share with all who have served. And let us reaffirm that no matter what the future holds, America will always honor its promise to serve our veterans as well as they served us — now and forever.”
Hagel: “Korean War veterans stepped forward to serve at a defining time in our history, and they deserve our thanks. They liberated millions of people from tyranny and helped forge a strong and lasting partnership with the Republic of Korea - one that has endured for more than six decades because of our shared values and shared sacrifice.
“In remembering the end of the Korean War, we also commemorate the beginning of a new era in the history of the region — a period of unprecedented growth, security, and prosperity.
“The United States remains committed to ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. More than 28,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serve in Korea today, and just as Korean War veterans held the line from Pusan to Panmunjom, so too do these current-day defenders stand ready to help guard freedom as well as promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout East Asia.”