Honorable heroes of the Jangjin Reservoir Campaign, Korean War veterans and bereaved relatives,
We are gathered here today to honor those heroes who fought in the Battle of Jangjin Reservoir. The Jangjin Battle warriors sacrificed themselves 68 years ago for “a people they never met.” Those who managed to survive thanks to their noble sacrifices have never forgotten for even a single moment the significance of freedom and peace that those heroes left behind.
Today, I once again express a profound tribute to the souls of the departed heroes with this statement: “Permanent peace is now drawing close to the Korean Peninsula.” I express my great respect for the two Jangjin Campaign heroes here today: James Wood and Robert Pellow. My respect and gratefulness also go to other Korean War veterans: Kim Jae-saeng, Lee Jong-yeon, Yu Yeong-bong and Lee Yong-taek.
The Battle of Jangjin Reservoir was a great victory and humanitarian scene in which countless refugees were saved. Continuously engaging in fierce battles although besieged by enemy forces around ten times larger, the heroes of Jangjin Reservoir did not abandon some 100,000 refugees and stood by them to the end, demonstrating their bravery. This made a great Christmas miracle possible. And, that became the first step for peace on the Korean Peninsula today.
In June last year, I laid a wreath at the Jangjin [Chosin] Reservoir Battle Monument in Washington D.C. for the first time as a president of the Republic of Korea. Together with General Steven Olmstead and surviving veterans who fought in the Battle and their families, I had time to revisit the significance of the Jangjin Reservoir Campaign and confirmed how deep-rooted the ROK-U.S. alliance was. Though it was only proper for me to express gratitude, U.S. citizens and Marines showed enthusiastic and unforgettable responses.
Forged in blood, the ties and friendship that run deep between the peoples of our two countries have led to our march together toward peace. Inter-Korean summits and a historic U.S.-North Korea summit were held successfully, and the beginning of a Korean Peninsula free from war was announced through the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018. If a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and threats materializes and permanent peace is declared through a second U.S.-North Korea summit to be held soon, it will show the world how invaluable the sacrifices made at the Battle of Jangjin Reservoir were.
The Republic of Korea will never forget the Battle of Jangjin Reservoir and the dedication of the war veterans. A Wall of Remembrance will be built within the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to commemorate the achievement of each and every one of the fallen heroes. The fighting spirit of the heroes who prevailed over many battles despite the extreme cold will be handed down to post-war generations in the United States and Korea as a source of pride. I will make sure that, to the last, each hero who still remains desolately buried around Jangjin Reservoir will be located and returned to his family.
The journey of the ROK-U.S. alliance toward peace will continue. I hope that the surviving Jangjin Reservoir heroes, Korean War veterans and bereaved families who are, more than anyone else, aware of the preciousness of peace will join with us. Wishing good health to you all, I promise to invite you once more to a peaceful Korean Peninsula.