July 23, 2013 Updated: July 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Veterans of the Korean War will gather at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting there.
The event, which kicks off with music at 10 a.m. from an ensemble from Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division band, will be held at the park's war memorial, off Union Boulevard. The ceremony, held by the Dutch Nelsen Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, includes speakers, and the laying of wreaths to honor those killed in Korea and those still missing in action.
Retired Army Maj. Michael Thomason, who is the event's master of ceremonies, said remembering the sacrifices of Korean War veterans honors a group that battled in a largely forgotten war.
"These are men who didn't get the glamour and glory of World War II," said Thomason, who served in South Korea during the 1980s.
The local Korean War veterans group has shrunk significantly in recent years, and the veterans left in the group are mostly in their 80s.
Thomason said the advancing age of veterans means the public is running out of time to thank them.
The war lasted just over three years and was the first conflict of the Cold War. North Korea, backed by China and the Soviet Union, scored initial victories before nearly collapsing. Then, American forces and their allies under the United Nations, were thrown back to the 38th parallel, the pre-war border.
The war froze into a stalemate long the border, with troops making massive sacrifices for minimal gains until the armistice was signed.
The armistice wasn't a peace treaty and the Korean peninsula, on paper, remains in a state of war.
When the fighting stopped in 1953, America had lost 54,000 troops.
At the time, the end of the war was scorned by many Americans who yearned for an outright victory.
Thomason said the past 60 years have shown what the veterans accomplished.
"We died and sacrificed, but we did it for a valid purpose and you can see the result," he said. "South Korea is thriving."