The Words of the Selle Family
They sat in prim red, white, and blue rows in the ornate and storied Statuary Hall under the dome of the U.S. Capitol. The members of the Little Angels Children's Folk Ballet of Korea radiated dignity and grace and innocence as they were surrounded by a typical Capitol Hill crowd of seasoned politicians, dapper congressional staffers, and cynical journalists, all paying rapt attention to the dais.
On the platform -- on one side of the circular hall with its columns of polished pink granite, walls of white marble, and bronze and stone statues of some of the political and cultural icons of U.S. history, such as Will Rogers, and Huey Long -- the leadership of Congress were seated along with several congressmen who were veterans of the Korean War. All were gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Speaker after speaker, from House Majority Leader Steney Hoyer to Senate Minority Leader John Boehner to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, alluded to a famous satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night. The photo shows 'South Korea lit up brightly with electric lights, while North Korea is dark -- symbolizing, in Hoyer's words, "the darkness of despotism" vs. "the holy light of freedom."
It was this distinction that South Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo must have had in mind when he said in his remarks later that the Korean War is not so much a "Forgotten War," as it's often referred to, but "a forgotten victory."
"The war," he said, "allowed South Korea to remain free and develop into a huge blessing of prosperity for 50 million people [the country's population today]." Moreover, he said, his nation has become an unflinching and unshakeable U.S. ally in the region.
Addressing the mostly American assemblage, he said, "Koreans will never forget the sacrifice you have rendered Korea." He noted that in Korea a 60th anniversary is an especially auspicious number. It signifies rebirth, a fresh start, a new life. So, he said, that's what this 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War means for U.S.-Korean relations.
Later, at a reception in a nearby room at which Ambassador Han and several congressmen spoke, the Little Angels sweetly sang several songs. Among them were "God Bless America" (which always evokes tears), "Arirang," "America the Beautiful" and "O Susanna"
Congressman and Korean War veteran Charles Rangel, who invited the Little Angels to the Capitol, then stepped to the podium and warmly thanked the 33 girls and 1 boy. Noting that the group's current tour is basically a thank-you tour from South Korea to especially America, he said, "I know that the thank-you you're giving us is also most importantly meant to thank all those who were left behind."
And indeed it was true. As Dr. Bo Hi Pak said in a public address in Norfolk, Va., earlier in June, "Korea owes America a debt of blood that can never be repaid!"