By Richard Lawrence
With the U.S.A. and North Korea in the news the last few weeks, it is fitting to remember the Korean War and its outcome, which led to the current political positions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. DPRK or North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (a.k.a. ROK or South Korea) and the division of the Korean Peninsula. On Sunday, 24th June 2018, remembrance ceremonies were hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at the Monument to the Canadian Fallen and the National War Memorial in Ottawa and after which they hosted a reception at the Chateau Laurier Hotel to honour those veterans who returned home and remember the sacrifice of those who didn’t.
The day started off with a smaller, intimate ceremony at the Monument to the Canadian Fallen where a contingent on Korean War Veterans gathered to honour their comrades with a wreath laying and the commitment to remember them. There were veterans from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, and as far away as British Columbia. Laying the wreath on behalf of Korea was Korean Rear-Admiral Kim, who had come all the way from Korea for this ceremony. Senator, the Honourable Yonah Martin laid the wreath on behalf of Canada. This was a small ceremony for the veterans only and was over in about 10 minutes after which everyone proceeded up to the National War Memorial (NWM) for the more formal ceremony.
The ceremony at the NWM followed the established program with the Act of Remembrance in English, French, and Korean, followed by the Commitment to Remember then prayers, the silence, and the laying of the wreaths. For Canada, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs, laid the wreath while Minister In Kyu Park, and Colonel Yoon of the ROK responded for Korea. Wreaths followed for various Korean groups, Veterans Groups, and other countries that fought during the Korean War.
While the ceremony itself was programmed there was one event that wasn’t and, as it turns out, was truly symbolic and allegorical of the event. As recounted by Vice-CDS, Vice-Admiral Darren Hawco, at the reception, “We saw a violent wind knock over the Republic of Korea flag. And we saw a veteran go and pick up that flag. And then we saw a Canadian soldier take the flag and hold it up in support of that veteran.”. While we no longer use animal entrails to determine our futures one could interpret this to represent the invasion of South Korea (flag blown down) and the assistance rendered to them, first by our veterans and now by our current Armed Forces members.
At the following reception everyone was greeted by the Korean Embassy in the receiving line, some in national costume, which was very colourful. There was food and drink aplenty and remarks from Minister Park, Minister O’Regan, and Senator Martin. Minister Park noted “The Korean people are forever grateful to the people of Canada for their contributions and sacrifice during the Korean War.” And Minister O’Regan lauded Korea’s progress over the lasts 65 years as “… [Korea] has become one of the largest economies in the world, a country that is home to one of the strongest democracies in the world…”.
Following the remarks, Vice-Admiral Hawco toasted the veterans and Koreans with “To lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula”, which was responded to by Mr. Bill Black, President of the Korean Veterans Association (Ottawa) – Unit #7, “To the Republic of Korea”. After the toasts, children from the Korean
Language School in Ottawa, dressed in national costume, came forward and presented a gift of letters of appreciation to Mr. Black to be distributed to the veterans. Once completed, and photos taken, the steam tables were open for lunch.
For more photos go to: