I read with much interest an article in the Korea Times over the weekend about the remains of a Korean War veteran laid to rest in Palatine, Illinois.
According to a statement from the Pentagon, the remains of Army Cpl. Stanley P. Arendt, was buried on March 29 in Palatine, Illinois with full military honors.
I read with interest because my kid brother, who works for Channel 7 ABC news in Chicago, told me on Facebook last month that he was the cameraperson for this story.
I also read with interest because of the Korean War novel I am writing and very, very close to completing—in fact, it is already completed; I am just adding some more information to four chapters before I begin editing and rewriting. Hint (I’ve already run this past the muse, so it’s okay) the story is connected to this article.
In May 2004, a joint U.S.-North Korean team excavated a mass grave near the town of Unsan after receiving a report that an elderly North Korean national had witnessed the death of U.S. soldiers at the site.
Arendt was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment in November 1950. According to the Pentagon, Arendt’s unit was involved in heavy fighting which devolved into hand-to-hand combat around their command post near Unsan.
Some 400 men were reported missing in action or killed in action during the battle at Unsan. This was when the Chinese entered the Korean War in full force (they had already made their presence known a few weeks earlier) which later prompted Gen. Douglas Macarthur to remark that the conflict had become “an entirely different war.”
Since the 1990s, the United States has conducted more than 30 excavation missions in the North finding the remains of what it believed to be some 230 soldiers.
And then I read this at the end of the article:
The joint excavation project between the two countries was halted in 2005 due to tensions over the North’s nuclear ambitions.
On Monday, the North threatened to abandon its efforts to preserve the remains of U.S. soldiers who went missing during the war, unless the United States agrees to restart the project soon. In response, the U.S. State Department hinted the excavations could begin again after the North returns to the six-party talks on its denuclearization.
The project had been a source of hard currency for the North, which has reportedly been struggling with a worsening food situation and reeling from the effects of its disastrous currency revaluation.
All I could think of was how sad and tragic it is for North Korea use the remains of someone’s grandfather, father, brother, uncle or son as leverage in this high stakes diplomatic maneuvering.
There are still over 8,000 personnel missing from the Korean War. It’s time to bring them all home. Do whatever it takes to locate their remains and bring them home. Write to your state senator or representative and demand that these remains recovery missions are resumed.
There are too many empty graves and too many families waiting for their loved ones to come home.