By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R from Alabama) released a written statement after meeting with World War II and Korean War veterans from Tuscaloosa participating in their Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
Senator Shelby said, “It was an honor to meet with several World War II and Korean War veterans from Tuscaloosa today to express my deep appreciation for their service to our great nation. I am delighted that these Alabama veterans had the opportunity to visit the national memorials in Washington dedicated to their extraordinary patriotism and courage. We must never forget that we owe a great debt of gratitude to our service members who have selflessly sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy every day as Americans.”
On the morning of December 7, 1941, aircraft from the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked U.S. armed forces based at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The devastating surprise attack plunged the United States into the bloodiest war in human history. Within days Japan’s Axis Allies: Italy and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, declared war on the U.S. In the next four years a generation of young Americans waged a furious war in Africa, in the Pacific, in the Atlantic, in Asia, and in Europe that few could have imagined in the generations prior to that. 410,000 Americans died in the war and another 672,483 Americans were wounded.
Less remembered, except by those who fought there, on June 25 1950, the armed forces of the government of North Korea, equipped by the USSR, launched a massive invasion of its neighbor to the South. Korea had been a Japanese possession since 1910 but following World War II was occupied by allied forces and been temporarily partitioned into two states: one occupied by the “evil empire” that was Stalin’s USSR (North Korea) and one occupied by the United States (South Korea) at the 38th Parallel. The United States led a United Nations effort to rescue the besieged South Koreans. U.S. armed forces fought the full might of North Korea, China who intervened to prevent allied forces from reuniting the two Koreas, and many of the air assets of the USSR in a three year war that claimed the lives of 36,000 Americans, over a 100,000 Chinese soldiers and millions of Koreans on both sides of the conflict, many of them civilians.
While South Korea’s post-war transition to democracy was often turbulent, today over 50 million South Koreans live comfortable lives, and are on average, are five inches taller than their malnourished, North Korean neighbors, where the brutal regime has killed over a million of its citizens in the decades following the war. Today, South Korea is an important American ally and trading partner and South Koreans have one of the highest approval ratings for the U.S. of any country in the world.
Senator Richard Shelby has served the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate since 1986. The Senator was a member of the House of Representatives and the State legislature prior to that.