Korean War: Soldiers, Not Cops
October 8, 1951 — George E. Sokolsky

The Mossadegh Project | March 27, 2017                             

“What are they doing there? Why will they have to spend another winter in that barren country if we are not at war? Why must so many of them be wounded and maimed? Why must they die?”

U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)

George Sokolsky, well known broadcaster, syndicated columnist and author, was already outraged by President Truman’s so-called “police action” in Korea. When he saw the way Americans killed in battle and their families were getting shafted during their burial rites — deprived of the full dignity of a traditional deceased soldier in war — he blew a gasket.

Korean War media archive
Harry Truman media archive

These Days
By George E. Sokolsky
No Money for Our Soldiers’ Graves?


Only this word can describe the attitude of a government that paints potatoes blue to make them unpalatable and that wastes billions of dollars at the turn of the wrist but removes the crosses over the graves of its dead soldiers in Hawaii because the cost of maintaining them is too high in that climate. And it is not only crosses, but stars of David as well. Of this, Cardinal Spellman said: [Francis Joseph Spellman (1889-1967), Archbishop of the Catholic Church in New York]

“I deplore the action, and the motive given was despicable.

“If the government cannot supply money for their maintenance, I am sure that the Catholic people of New York will. And they will be joined by Protestants and Jews as well.”

Similarly, only last month, President Truman decided to permit the word “Korea” to be placed on Arlington gravestones. As Eugene R. Guild, captain, U.S.A. retired, who lost a son in Korea, wrote the president:

“The authorized single word ‘Korea’ — merely geographic, not historic — is still an evasion, a weasel word which dodges the issue and attempts to preserve the original deceit that the Korean war is not a war. It is still like your ruling appeasing the reds of the Arlington gravestones of our five fliers shot down over Yugoslavia.” [Arlington National Cemetery]

“A soldier’s grave has, until your stewardship, been the one inviolable page of history from which later generations could read the truth. Who tampers with it destroys its integrity. My son was killed by battlefield appeasement; must I now take him from Arlington’s once hallowed ground because, lest the Reds be offended, it is to be again fouled by graveyard appeasement?”

Apparently, at one stage of this desecration, the gravestones of soldiers killed in the Korean war were marked “World War II.” which, of course, was a factual, historical and legal falsehood. Parents who protested were informed that they could, at their own expense, substitute the word “Korea” on the back or bottom of the stone.

On September 20, the Defense Department stopped haggling over the dead and authorized the use of the word “Korea” on gravestones, but no American soldier may be honored by having it appear over his final resting place that he gave his life for his country in the Korean war.

The absurdity of it all comes from the twisted concept of this Korean war as a police action. Our troops who storm hills against enemy shell are not soldiers but cops. They are not fighting for their own country but for a nebulous entity called the United Nations of which the principal enemy, Russia, is a member.

Theirs not to reason why.

Theirs but to do and die. . .

But we can reason why and can protest against this legalistic mechanism by which American soldiers fight without American benefits. Few realize that the G.I. Bill of Rights and other benefits granted American fighting men as a token of the gratitude of our people for their lost years and lost lives are withheld from American fighters in Korea because they are not at war.

What are they doing there? Why will they have to spend another winter in that barren country if we are not at war? Why must so many of them be wounded and maimed? Why must they die?

It is time for the Congress of the United States to take the decision in this matter. Constitutionally, it is theirs to take. Congress can pass a blanket measure granting to American soldiers in Korea the rights and benefits to which they are entitled, including a fitting marker of their gravestones.

Congress might also inquire into the Defense Department’s decisions as to the status of Americans in Eisenhower’s NATO army. Are those soldiers Americans or are they NATOES? Are they being treated as the United States has treated its troops in the past two wars, or are they being reduced to a European level? Do they receive the benefits of a G.I. Bill of Rights or are they to be forgotten men? How are their graves to be marked when they are killed- Will they, too, be included in the category, World War II, because no one in the Pentagon has sufficient imagination to realize that men fighting today may be ashamed of the appeasement of Russia in World War II and hope that they can correct the mistakes of their elders?

Shall it be said of us that we have grown so hopelessly blasé that we care little or nothing about our own sons, even those who die for our country?

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Related links:

Rep. Thomas J. Lane Defends Korean War Veterans (1952 Speech)

Korea: Military Double-Talk Written in Blood | Robert Ruark (1951)

Many Things Contribute to Mistrust of Truman | The Chester Times, July 17, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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