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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 24, 1998




In 1950, the thoughts of most Americans were far from war. With the recent end of World War II and economic recovery in full swing, the American people had resumed their everyday lives -- going back to school, starting new jobs, and raising their families. But the tenor of the times changed suddenly and dramatically that summer, as communist North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel to invade its free neighbor to the south.

Once again, the world watched to see if the right of self-determination would prevail in the face of aggression, and once again Americans answered the call to serve. A United Nations force -- spearheaded by U.S. air, sea, and ground troops and under a unified command headed by the United States -- rushed to the support of South Korea. In the following 38 months, Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir, the Yalu River, and a hundred other locales indelibly etched into the memory of our Korean War veterans were added to the long list of places where Americans have fought and died for freedom. The fighting was brutal; the toll in injuries, lives lost, and those missing in action was heavy. But American forces, fighting side by side with South Koreans and our U.N. allies, halted communist aggression, preserved the Republic of Korea, and won a victory for democratic peoples everywhere.

Yet, for many years, these important achievements and the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of our forces in Korea received little recognition. For too long, overshadowed by the broad dimensions of World War II and the complexities of the Vietnam War, the Korean conflict seemed to be America's forgotten victory.

But in 1995, with the dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in our Nation's capital, America finally paid fitting tribute to those brave Americans whose devotion to duty wrote a crucial chapter in freedom's history and whose valor and determination in battle laid the foundation for our Nation's ultimate triumph in the Cold War. With its haunting column of determined troops, the Memorial has the power to evoke strong memories within those who served. But it serves another enduring purpose: to teach future generations about America's heroes, the depth of their sacrifice, and the historic contributions they made to the cause of peace and freedom.

The Congress, by Public Law 104-19 (36 U.S.C. 169m), has designated July 27, 1998, as "National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 27, 1998, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor and give thanks to our distinguished Korean War veterans. I also ask Federal departments and agencies, interested groups, organizations, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff on July 27, 1998, in memory of the Americans who died as a result of their service in Korea.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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