SEOUL, Nov. 11 (UPI) — A highly symbolic ceremony was held Monday at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in South Korea’s southern port city of Busan in honor of foreign soldiers who were killed while fighting on the South Korean side during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The “Turn Toward Busan” ceremony brought together around 1,000 foreign war veterans, families of fallen soldiers and diplomats from 22 countries that sent either combat forces or medical support to South Korea during the conflict.
A minute of silence was observed at 11 a.m., with attendees turning toward the U.N. Memorial Cemetery to commemorate Korean War fallen troops.
The ceremony was first proposed in 2007 by Canadian war veteran Vincent Courtenay, now 85. It is held on Nov. 11 every year.
Courtenay read out a recitation for the fallen troops, titled “How Silent You Rest,” which says, “The strength of your courageous spirit lives within the hearts of the strong and free Korean people.”
Gary Steven DeAmaral delivered a speech in honor of his late grandfather and war veteran William Ronald Christensen who participated in the war as a soldier of the U.S. 8th Cavalry regiment.
DeAmaral studied at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on a Korean government scholarship and is now working at a conglomerate here.
Before the ceremony, South Korean veterans affairs minister Park Sam-Duck visited the grave of James Patrick Daunt, of Australia, who fought in the war at the age of 17. He was the youngest soldier to fight alongside South Korean forces under the U.N. banner.
Park also bestowed peace medals on the family members of fallen Canadian and British troops.
“I am paying my respects to those who sacrificed themselves for a distant country and its people,” Park said.
“The Republic of Korea, which has been protected by blood and sweat by numerous people, has become an economically advanced nation from one of the world’s poorest countries and a cultural powerhouse via [the popularity] of the Korean Wave,” he added. The Republic of Korea is South Korea’s official name.
The ceremony was followed by commemorative performances by tenor Ryu Hana, the Little Angels of Korea and others.
The South Korean Air Force’s Black Eagles, one of Asia’s best acrobatic flight teams, also performed an air show.