U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
Monday, June 15, 10:00 a.m.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, Chairman Ban Ki-moon, Foreign Minister Kang, fellow members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great honor to be here today at the opening of the Gwanghwamun Arirang Special Art Exhibition, which is being held in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War.
As we look back at the fateful morning of June 25, 1950, and look at where we are today, it is gratifying to see how the shared sacrifices of the U.N. Sending States and South Koreans so many years ago laid the groundwork for the strong relationship we enjoy.
Together, we have triumphed over the tragedy of war to become one of the strongest and most dynamic alliances in the world.
The Korean War was the first great conflict in the long struggle of the Cold War. A struggle that culminated in the victory of democracy over communism…of freedom over oppression…of sea-lanes and gateways over blockades and barricades.
Brilliance, innovation, and creativity are all hallmarks of a free society. This is what the Republic of Korea has come to be known for. South Korea is indeed a free country…a vibrant and prosperous nation that pulses with hope and optimism…a key leader and a beacon of light in Asia.
As the entire world tackles the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the United States are benefiting first-hand from a new aspect of our alliance with the Republic of Korea. The ROK’s response to COVID-19 stands as a global example and model. The recent donation of 500,000 masks to American Korean War veterans by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, for instance, is a poignant recognition of their sacrifices and a tangible example of our steadfast friendship and partnership.
Exhibits like the one we’re here to open today, reminds us of the magnitude of the legacy that was accomplished seven decades ago by the heroes who went before us. Artist Kang Ik-joong captures the hope for world peace expressed in paintings by children of twenty-two U.N. Sending States, and features the names of 175,801 fallen heroes of the Korean War. It’s remarkable.
So, thank you Mr. Kang. This piece honors the memory of our fallen heroes and gives us a tangible – and beautiful – reminder of the strength of our alliance and the importance of the legacy we are passing on to future generations.
Thank you very much and God bless.