Thank you, President Biden. It is very meaningful for me that President Biden extended an invitation to join this ceremony to award the Medal of Honor to retired Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. I was told that this is the first time for a foreign head of state to attend a Medal of Honor presentation ceremony. It is a great honor and pleasure as President of the Republic of Korea.
Colonel Puckett is a Korean War hero. The Colonel fulfilled his missions to the end with superhuman valor and leadership in countless combats, including the battle of Hill 205. His sacrifices and those of the troops of the U.S. Eighth Army Ranger Company and other Korean War veterans have enabled Korea to bring freedom and democracy to full bloom.
Colonel Puckett told me earlier that everything was destroyed in Korea at that time. That’s right. Korea has risen again from the ruins of war. Building upon the very strength of the U.S. Korean War veterans who joined us to safeguard peace and freedom, Korea was able to rise again from the ruins and achieve today’s prosperity.
I express my deep gratitude and respect on behalf of the Korean people. These war veterans showed us the great American spirit that marches forward toward freedom and peace. We will remember the veterans’ courage, sacrifice and friendship forever.
The ROK-U.S. alliance, forged with the blood of heroes, has become the linchpin of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. Colonel Puckett and his fellow veterans are a solid link in the ROK-U.S. alliance. I wish that you are with us in good health for a long time to come.