This year marks the 71st anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War (1950 ~ 1953). With six million combatants and five million civilian casualties, the war left an indelible scar on the Korean Peninsula, but it also liberated South Korea from communist tyranny and allowed for fast development, resulting in Korea becoming one of the world's wealthiest and safest nations.
During the Korean War, UN forces from 21 nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Australia. Fought alongside South Korean soldiers against communist forces in the north. South Korea received assistance from these 21 countries in the form of troops, arms, food, and logistical support.
The Ministry of Patriots & Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hold various commemoration events each year to honor the millions of soldiers who fought and died in the Korean War, as well as to thank participating countries for their assistance. These events include memorial ceremonies, veteran's appreciation events (invitation to South Korea), and the establishment of war memorials.
However, there are still thousands of soldiers whose sacrifice in the Korean War has yet to be recognized and honored, including approximately 100,000 of Mexican origin who fought in the war as part of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans joined the US forces to support South Korea and sacrificed their lives in the war, although the Mexican government did not formally support them. Notwithstanding their valiant sacrifice, the media, the Korean, Mexican, and American governments, and history, in general, have failed to recognize or appreciate them. According to Bruno Figueroa, the current ambassador of Mexico in South Korea, in his article titled, ‘Mexicans: Forgotten soldiers of 1950-53 Korean War,’ “the information about them (Mexican soldiers in the Korean War) and their actions is incomplete; there is still no comprehensive history of their contributions, granted that several research papers and veteran memoirs give some important account.”
To uncover and honor the sacrifice of forgotten veterans, the Mexican Embassy, with the help of the South Korean Embassy in Mexico, established the Association of Mexican Veterans of the Korean War last year (2020) and found several surviving veterans in Mexico. Their work continues in finding more surviving veterans and their families, conducting an in-depth historical search, and educating the public regarding their sacrifice.
Much remains to be done, but their work has started to address the paramount task of uncovering and recognizing other numerous forgotten soldiers who contributed to the foundation of democracy in South Korea.
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