Sixty years ago this week a war began when troops from North Korea swept over their border with South Korea to begin the Korean War. I am one of those who served in the American armed forces during this war which, for most of my fellow countrymen, has been condemned to the events of no importance file. Most of those who served were born in the Depression, spent our initial ten years of life in poverty, our adolescence as children in World War II and then came the Cold War. We missed the Roaring Twenties and its wealth and we missed being part of the “Greatness Generation which won WWII. We are a generation which has always been ignored and we don’t even have a name. The slogan of Korean War soldiers was: “that’s the way the ball bounces, sometimes she comes up, sometimes she goes down.”
What did we do? We were the first generation of American soldiers who fought alongside Negroes since the Revolutionary War when George Washington refused to have segregated units. We ended the color barrier and gave birth to men like Colin Powell who would one day become head of the armed forces. We gave birth to children who were teenagers in the Sixties and participated in anti-war protests as we realized the Vietnam War was going no place other than leading to the death of American soldiers. We knew all too well the American people did not wish to fully commit to war just as the current generation of Americans allows 1.5 million young men and women protect 300,000,000.
Our war has disappeared from American consciousness. But, its lessons apply to the world of 2010. We were the soldiers who fought for “limited wars” and recognized the US could not use all of its weapons in order to conduct a modern war. The lesson of the Korean War was resolution lay in a negotiated peace, NOT VICTORY. This is the lesson for the Obama administration. The war in Afghanistan must be resolved at a bargaining table, and, frankly, America does not even have to be a party to that negotiation.
President Obama– learn the lesson of the Korean War