South Korean Ambassador Lee Tae-sik came to the Lake in the Hills American Legion Home to thank Korean War Veterans for
Pointing to a banner which has “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE” at its bottom, Lee noted that there were 100,000 United States and 2 million Korean casualties, “an enormous sacrifice.”
“As a result of this sacrifice, out freedom is saved,” he continued.
“I extend my country’s most heartfelt thanks and gratitude.”
I don’t know how the others in the room felt, but my eyes were tearing up.
Later, as Lee reflected on the over 50 years of democracy and economic growth to the 11th largest economy in the world, I wondered if an Iraqi ambassador would repeat be thanking Iraq War Veterans for freeing his country 50 years from now.
Lee was introduced by United States Congressman Don Manzullo.
I’ve said for a long time that if Manzullo were not a congressman, he could be a minister.
Manzullo explained that Lee had told him he wanted “to make sure to spend some time in thanking Korean Veterans for making my county free.
“He represents a people…who know how precious freedom is.
“He’s here to thank you for being a good and faithful servant.”
That’s right out of the Bible.
“You saved us,” Lee said.
“That is why our country has become a successful democracy.”
The Ambassador said he didn’t know that the Korean company Samsung had given $5 million for an American Legion Scholarship fund “before I came over here.” American Legion State Commander Louis Gonzalez explained the scholarships.
Samsung gave the American Legion $5 million to distribute to direct descendents of Korean Veterans. This past year seven $20,000 and seventy-one $1,000 scholarships were distributed from the interest on the money.
“How could they achieve such an enormous success?” Lee asked.
“Had it not been for your sacrifice…this would not have been possible.”
Lee praised Manzullo as “a close friend of Korea. He is not an Korean Veteran, (but) he has the kind of heart and mind to care about our relationship.”
Earlier in the day, Lee had met with Korean Veterans in Rockford.
“It was a very touching reunion,” he explained. “Each and everyone of you are close friends of Korea.”
He spoke of attempts to develop “an improved relationship with North Korea.”
“We will win the South Korean-North Korean War, but we will do without another war. When we have improved relationships with North Korean, it will served to prevent a second Korean War.”
“North Korea is not going to collapse anytime soon,” Lee cautioned, pointing out, “The country is working on nuclear weapons.
“Military is not an option,” he continued.
“In the end we will win,” he predicted, pointing out that North Korean “is from within.”
Referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lee said of his country’s efforts with its northern neighbor, “We are planting a seed for the country.”
As I was leaving to pick up my son at school, Lee was reiterating, “All the sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“Long live the United States.
“Long live Korea.
“Long live the United States-Korean alliance.
“Long live our Korean War Veterans.”
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Top right is a photograph of the Korean War banner on the wall of the Lake in the Hills American Legion Hall 1231.
Right below is a shot I took of Congressman Don Manzullo and South Korean Ambassador to the United States Lee Tae-sik.
Algonquin’s Gary Jensen introduces Manzullo in the narrow picture on the left. Ambassador Lee speaks to the audience immediately below. Two crowd shots are below.
Finally, there is a photograph of Dennis Bieniek, Post Commander of the Lake in the Hills American Legion Post, giving the welcoming address. To Bieniek’s right are Illinois State Commander and Mrs. Louis Gonzalez, Ambassador Lee and Congressman Manzullo.
All photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.