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[6.25 수필 공모 입상작-우수상] "한국전쟁과 평화"

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I come from a generation that has mostly forgotten the sacrifices made by its former to provide the liberties and securities which are often disregarded and taken for granted. This self-absorbed generation seems to be only concerned with video games, superficial entertainment, and instant gratification. But even though I am a child of this generation, I am also the grandchild of a Korean War veteran, and I have become increasingly fervent about the Cold War.

This awareness is one that was passed on to me by my father. He used to take out his father's medals to teach me about the tragic event and how honorable a person my grandfather was. Although my grandfather fought for the freedom of his country, he was always uncomfortable about showing pride about the war. Rather, my grandfather would shout, silently put away his "achievements," and say, "Anything that was earned from killing our own brothers is not honorable." Although I knew that any war is too cruel to talk about, at that time, no logic could be seen in my grandfather's reaction to my father, yet.

A section in my U.S. history class triggered me to take the Korean War more seriously. I was uncomfortable with the fact that the Korean War was merely regarded as a conflict, not a civil war. Unhappy with the current treatment toward the war in my textbook, I decided to bring greater awareness of the war, honoring the sixtieth anniversary of the Korean War. Therefore, I organized a photo exhibit about Korean War veterans to honor the veterans, in which I interviewed five veterans to talk with them about Korea then and today, and to vividly sketch the impressions of the battlefield. I captured the confident eyes of the old soldiers and their pictures taken back when they were in Korea, fighting for freedom. The exhibit offered an alternative perspective about Korean War. Preparing for the exhibit, I came to understand the war at the veterans' level and felt the need of minimize the generational apathy toward such a tragic event. While setting up the exhibit, I got involved with the Korean War Veterans' Association. Impressed by such determination, board members of the organizing unanimously elected me as their key-note speaker for the appreciation event.

The day I gave the speech is one that I will never forget. Standing nervously at the front of the convention hall at The Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, clutching the copy of my speech with trembling fingers, I stared into the eyes of more than five thousand Korean War veterans and their families. "It is very easy to forget, but forgetting can be reversed, so that the proper respect is given." I assured them that their sacrifices will always be remembered, and that there are those-such as myself-who will continue to make efforts to raise awareness of the price our fore fathers paid for our freedoms. From the podium, I could see the fading eyes of the forgotten men in the convention room. Eyes of the veterans were tired from aging. Yet they were shining with the pride of what they fought for and secured. As I stepped down from the podium, applause erupted throughout the hall.

This experience has allowed me to see the war through my grandfather's eyes. Medals are merely reminiscence of the days of hunger, blood and trauma to my grandfather. No matter what the veterans initially fought for, the war was just a massive massacre of our own brothers, and this sometimes made my grandfather feel extremely guilty, though he had no choice but to do so. My involvement in the Korean War 60th anniversary appreciation event taught me that if we are to start a world relationship, it must be based on respect for each other and each other's differences, sacrifices, and values. In the pursuit of deeper understanding in the global relationship, I hope to build ties among nations and minimize shallow perspectives about global issues. Seeking a deeper understanding about the past, present and the future, I hope to avert future conflicts and wars.


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