How long, America, how long?
October 8, 1951 — The Milwaukee Sentinel

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | July 27, 2018                               

The Korean War

The Korean War: June 25, 1950 - July 27th, 1953

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement, signed by the United Nations, North Korea and China after over three bloody years of conflict. In commemoration, North Korea today returned the apparent remains of U.S. soldiers, relinquishing a longstanding bargaining chip.

This featured editorial which ran in the Hearst-owned Milwaukee Sentinel is a reminder of the heavy toll of war, and of the fact that technically speaking, the Korean War never ended — it’s just one long cease fire.

Korean War archive

Give Him a Fighting Chance

This is a swell time of the year to be young and an American—if you’re in America.

Football season ••• World Series ••• A tang of crispiness in the air, hinting at the fun and fellowship of the years that should be the brightest in any man’s life.

But suppose you’re not in America. Suppose you’re stashed away in a foreign land miles from the scene of youthful gayety. Suppose you know you’re being robbed of the best years of your life by a war you never made and will never understand.

Nothing poetic or pretty about Autumn if that’s your situation, Bud.

The World Series is something you’ll hear over the Armed Forces radio—if you’re lucky. And as for football, please not to mention topics which conjure memories of pretty girls and the carefree relaxation of a Saturday afternoon back home.

The first snowfall of the season fluffed over the bitter Korean hills the other day. Thousands of Americans felt the wisps brush against them and looked up at the dour, somber sky.

Unless America has blunted the conscience that once gave wings to its greatness, we must all have caught an echo of the thought that wrestled the GI mind as the flakes whirled earthward.

Another Winter in this hell-hole? A second season of grinding cold, of keening winds, of agonized combat with an enemy too primitive to be harassed by the elements? How long, America, how long?

How long, indeed.

How long will be continued to shackle our Air Force, the one arm that could bring surcease to the soldiers frozen in their fox holes?

How long will we ask American infantrymen to risk their lives against odds that could be speedily switched if the Air Force were permitted to lower the boom—and the bombs?

How long will ask our airmen to court death while outmanned by an enemy which darts back into its Manchurian sanctuary whenever cornered?

Our diplomats have tried the tip-toe treatment in Korea long enough.

The time has come to turn the Air Force loose.

The time has come to give the American fighting man in Korea a fighting chance for survival.

The scoreboard in Korea:

DEAD                                  14,280
WOUNDED                        60,410
MISSING                            10,661

THIS is the price in blood we have already paid for the most expensive “police action” of recorded history. It is a price which scoffs at the bureaucratic containment of a “ceiling”.

Even as you read these lines, the figures in all four categories are going up. A dead American here, a youth with a shattered body there, a third condemned to the bleak existence of a Communist prison camp.

And the end is not yet in sight. No one in Washington professes to have the dimmest idea when the bloodletting will cease. The enemy still calls the tune and we dance to his humiliating music.

Compared to the price in human agony, the cost to our pocketbooks is relatively unimportant. But it is already running into billions and the American economy groans under the unnatural burden.

Not to mention the hundreds of millions that must be appropriated for the rebuilding of devastated Korea.

The price of Korea might be worth the cost and blood and money and the intangible terrors of the spirit if the people who are bearing its worst burdens understood the reasons for their sacrifice.

In the coming weeks, most Americans will keep a fascinated eye on the World Series results and the football scores. It might also be well to keep in touch with the Korean scoreboard. We’re already working on the “first hundred thousand”—the first hundred thousand casualties of an adventure embraced on the spur of the moment.

“This Not Who We Are” | Morality, American Style


Related links:

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

Rep. Thomas J. Lane Defends Korean War Veterans (Jan. 9, 1952)

The Great Betrayal | anti-Truman editorial, April 12, 1951

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

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