By Michael d’Oliveira
World War II is often referred to as “The Good War” because it ended the threat of Nazism and Imperial Japan.
Killing human beings is never “good.” But World War II illustrates that there can be good goals associated with war. The world is infinitely better off because of the brave men who fought against the Nazis.
But there’s another war that was just as “good” as World War II, and it happened only five years after America and its allies defeated Hitler and Tojo.
Today is the anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s amphibious landing at Inch’on. On September 15, 1950, 40,000 Army and Marine Corps infantryman landed at Inch’on during the Korean War.
Up until that point, the North Koreans had been winning the war and had conquered all of South Korea, except a small pocket of American and United Nations resistance – Pusan. The landings at Inch’on cut the supply lines of the North Koreans and forced them to retreat.
Unlike the D-Day landings in World War II, which were the beginning of the end of the Nazis, the Inch’on landings weren’t the beginning of the end of the North Koreans. Today, the Peninsula is still divided between North and South.
There was no final victory against North Korea. After Inch’on, the war lasted another three years and ended in stalemate. In World War II, good had triumphed completely over evil. But in Korea, good and evil merely decided to put a halt to the fighting.
But it was not a failure.
Inch’on, and every other battle fought by America and its allies in the Korean War, deserves to be remembered just as much as every battle fought in World War II.
Because of the 36,914 Americans who died during the war, 51 million South Koreans are free today. It’s not on the same scale as freeing an entire continent from fascism, but it’s no less admirable and no less worthy of remembrance.
Satellite images of the Korean Peninsula at night show that the difference between South and North Korea is the difference between light and darkness – literally.
The image at the top of this article shows one nation as thriving and prosperous; a country lit up at night because the vast majority of its citizens are given the opportunity to succeed and provide for themselves.
The other half of the image is a different story.
It’s an illustration of the slavery, poverty and depravation that the North Korea people have to endure daily.
If it weren’t for the Americans who fought and died in the Korean War, millions more Koreans would be living in darkness – literally and figuratively. For that, we should honor them just as much as we honor our World War II veterans.