CHEONAN, South Korea - More than 200 Cheonan residents joined 36 American and KATUSA Soldiers from Camp Humphreys to honor the fallen during the annual Battle of Cheonan Commemoration at Martin Park here July 8.
The Korea Freedom Federation Cheonan Chapter hosted the event with support from Cheonan City.
The ceremony marked the 67th anniversary of the battle, fought by American Soldiers of the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division and South Korean Army Soldiers. During the battle on July 7-8, 1950 more than 100 Soldiers died, including the 34th Infantry Regiment's commander Col. Robert R. Martin, for whom the park is named.
U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys commander Col. Scott W. Mueller and Command Sgt. Maj. Willie F. Pearson attended representing the garrison.
The first speaker Jang, Kyu-yong, president of the KFF Cheonan Chapter, emphasized the importance of the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance.
"As you know North Korea has still not abandoned its goals of unifying the peninsula under their rule. We are not intimidated by North Korean actions, including the Cheonan sinking, the shelling of Yeon Pyeong Island, the fifth nuclear test in September 2016, or the intercontinental ballistic missile tests carried out on May 14, 21, 27 and 30," Jang said. "In such a tight security situation, we must keep the peace in Korea through a strong ROK-US alliance grounded in a sense of security."
The Cheonan vice mayor, So, Cheol Mo, reminded everyone to remember the fallen and to honor those who serve today.
"We will remember the noble sacrifice of nearly 33,000 American Soldiers who died for freedom and peace during the Korean War, our respect and gratitude for them will last forever," So said. "I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to the U.S. Forces in Korea who devote themselves to maintain the security of the Republic of Korea even at this moment."
Mueller spoke next, noting how appropriate the park be named for the fallen commander of the 34th Infantry Regiment.
"In the United States the Korean War is often called the forgotten war. It is appropriate that this place be named Martin Park for it honors the memory of those brave Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during those early, desperate days of the Korean War. It is right and proper that we remember their sacrifices that those who fought here know they will never be forgotten," he said.
Ms. Yim, Kyeong-nam, Vice President of KFF Cheonan Chapter gave a memorial poetry reading next that emphasized the meaning of the ceremony. The title of the poem was 'Between Heaven and Earth' by 'Mr. Lee, Byeong-seok.'
'Cheonan Samgeori (triple way intersection) is a square where the big heaven, earth, and human meet and commune.
'In Martin Park, a blessed land where eagles and doves huddle open hearted and hand in hand, we pray in memory of noble souls.
'Dedicated to the commemoration of the great and honorable victims with the 34th Regiment, 24th Division who fell glorious flowers in Cheonan battles, during the Korean civil war for the welfare and democracy of the world for the freedom and peace of this nation.
'God bless the brave Soldiers forever and ever in the name of all the brothers in Korea and all the world over.
'Thy unselfish love and noble sacrifice shall shine brightly in the history of human race with eternal heavenly blessing!
'Thy love humanity and sublimity shall be taken over forever glorious warriors, rest in comfort in heaven! Peace be with thee in the arm of God on the 67th anniversary.'
Next, Hwang, Du Hwan, student leader of Samgeori Elementary School next to Martin Park read a thank you letter for Mueller and the U.S. Soldiers who participated in the ceremony.
"I really appreciate you letting us live without a war," Hwang said. "I have noticed that here could be a grave of someone, even though I walk with friends pleasurably on the way to school and back. Thanks to the noble sacrifice of the Soldiers, we can live without any difficulty and Korea could develop and be one of the good countries."
John Eimes, an American college professor who works for Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon, attended the ceremony as a way to honor his father John Adam Eimes and Martin. The elder Eimes, an Infantryman, was wounded in the Korean War and later retired from active duty in 1969. Eimes's academic advisor, Professor Patricia Parker, is the granddaughter of Col. Robert Martin.
"I would like to honor my father and my advisor's granddad," Eimes said.
Following the event, the Humphreys Soldiers visited Independence Hall in Cheonan to learn about Korean history during Japanese rule on Korean peninsula from 1910-1945.