- Historic Sites
How To Remember The Forgotten War
The Korean conflict erupted fifty years ago this June. Many Americans still believe that it began in debacle (which is true) and ended in a humiliating compromise that changed nothing (which is not).
May/June 2000 | Volume 51, Issue 3
The cease-fire I hadn’t remained to experience was the public relations defeat that the communists had kept the conflict going many months in hopes of fending off. Yet even today the Korean War is considered at best an ignominious draw. It was not. It did cost America 54,246 lives. Thousands more are still missing. But enemy losses were at least ten times our own, and the communists were rolled back beyond the thirty-eighth parallel. South Korea thrives while the ideologically obsolete North survives as a backward pariah behind one of the few iron curtains still hanging. A booming Taiwan, which Mao’s China might easily have swallowed up had it not intervened in Korea, remains beyond reach. And the principle of voluntary repatriation of war prisoners, a propaganda blow to Cold War communism, stands. On every front, the Forgotten War ended in victory. We may have blundered into it, but we proved up to it.