Mr. President, distinguished guests, veterans, family and friends, welcome. Today, on the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War, we gather to honor those brave Americans who fought so courageously in one of the most difficult and brutal wars in our history.
As Secretary of the Interior, I have the honor of overseeing the Korean War Veterans Memorial, one of the many memorials and battlefields managed by the National Park Service, to honor those who have defended our country.
Just as the Iwo Jima Memorial, several miles from here, commemorates a moment of great triumph at a terrible battle, the Korean War Veterans Memorial with its soldiers eternally on patrol captures the long, hard battle that was the Korean War.
This monument serves as a daily reminder of the thousands who did not return or returned bearing the scars of war.
The Korean War has sometimes been called 'the forgotten victory', but we do not forget the sacrifices of those who gave their lives defending South Korea, including more than 36,000 Americans and 140,000 South Korean troops killed or missing in action.
We do not forget that without their sacrifice, 50 million South Koreans would not be free today living in a prosperous, democratic country that is one of America's closest allies and an inspiration to other nations around the world struggling for freedom.
We don't forget that freedom is not free, and that the high price of freedom is paid by a few for the benefit of the many.
Today, we honor those few who paid that price in Korea. On this 60th anniversary, I am proud to welcome all of you here to this memorial that tells the stories of heroism, patriotism, honor, courage, and love of freedom and country.