Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today became the first United Nations chief to visit the UN Memorial Cemetery in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and pay respect to the 2,300 soldiers that died in the line of duty during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
“Today we remember those who fell in freedom’s name, and we remember the families and communities that still suffer from the war’s grim legacy,” Mr. Ban said at the cemetery in Busan, which he visited during an official trip to the ROK.
“More than half a century ago, they stood against communist aggression. They fought and died so that we could be here today, living in larger freedom. We shall never forget them,” he added.
The UN Memorial Cemetery is the only UN cemetery in the world. In his remarks during his visit to the site Mr. Ban said it is proof that “countries and peoples of all cultures, faiths, and geographies can unite to fight for universal principles.”
He called the site “a beautiful monument to the brave UN soldiers” who lost their lives, and thanked local residents who visit the cemetery each day to lay wreaths of remembrance.
“As a young boy, I watched the UN blue flag fly. I knew many of the soldiers who defended my country. They were brave and they were kind,” he said. “It was the courage of soldiers from 16 peace-loving nations and the support of five others who saved Korea from tyranny and helped to bring us where we are today.”
He called for renewed commitment to reuniting the Korean Peninsula “so that all Koreans can live in peace and prosperity for generations to come.”