Psalm 82:4 “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Over 5.5 million soldiers fought in the Korean War. Nearly 1.5 million are still alive today, with most living in California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania. How many of us today understand what these brave veterans accomplished?
The Korean War has been described as “the forgotten war.” Unlike World War II and Vietnam, it didn’t get much media attention in the US. But while most Americans today may not remember, war memorials stand in nearly every hamlet of South Korea to honor these United States soldiers who fought to defend their freedom from North Korea’s Communist dictatorship (although twenty-one countries came to the defense of South Korea, the United States provided almost 90% of the military, with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines all serving with distinction).
The Korean War was short but incredibly bloody. Of the nearly 5 million people who were killed, half of these were Korean civilians, as North Korea began murdering anyone refusing to bow to their Communist government. This rate of civilian deaths was greater than in World War II and Vietnam. In terms of American military, almost 40,000 American soldiers died, with more than 100,000 wounded.
We entered the war to defend global freedom against Communism. Prior to World War II, Korea had been a part of the Japanese empire. After Japan surrendered, America and Russia divided Korea between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when Russia’s Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong gave North Korea’s dictator Kim Il-Sung permission to invade South Korea with 75,000 troops.
When President Truman was told that North Koreans invaded South Korea, he responded that the United States was obligated to come to South Korea’s defense. He compared the communist regime of North Korea to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, stating he would not be the one to repeat the mistake of appeasement to a ruthless dictatorship: “Communism was acting in Korea just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors”.
Truman, like presidents before him, understood the principles America is built upon: the “inalienable rights” of all people to freedom, especially from communist oppression. Where does America’s foundation of freedom and the defense of human rights come from? You can thank Christianity.
We as a people are unique among all civilizations that have ever existed, where our right to freedom is “unalienable” – it originates from the God of the Bible. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa – all nations on these continents have never recognized human rights as “unalienable”. Instead, their diplomacy has always served the interests of their rulers, not the consent of the people they governed.
Our Korean War veterans remind us of the special role America occupies in the world. It is grounded in the moral principles of human liberty and the sense of justice. The American way of life is to defend the ideals of human rights and liberty around the globe. As John F. Kennedy said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” (January 20, 1961).
Our verse this week highlights the biblical mandate that human life is sacred and must be defended against the wickedness of those intending to destroy life for personal gain. As George Washington once said, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
This American way of life has no better example than our awesome military, and this week it’s our Korean War veterans who are responsible for ensuring the freedom of the South Korean people. Thank God for our military. Praise God for the courageous sacrifice of our armed forces so freedom can reign.