Monday, December 10, 2012

S. Korea -Busan-UN war cemetery and observatory

Day 10 - Sat Sept 22.

Today we did the city bus tour. Flynn was coughing all night and slept very badly so I only had about 2 hrs sleep then awake for an hour then 1.5 hrs sleep and then he was up at 5.30. Everytime he coughed, he woke up. It was awful in the small hotel room trying to keep him quiet. But once we were upstairs on the open top roof, we soon forgot about our sleepless night as we surveyed the scenery around us.

On the city bus tour we only got to do two things as the day went pretty fast. We first stopped at the UN war cemetery, the only one of its kind in the world, honouring the soldiers who fought in the Korean War. 

281 Australian soldiers are buried there, amongst the 2300 in total. It brought tears to my eyes, to dwell on the ultimate sacrifice they made. 

 We were asked our nationality by the guards when we went in, not sure why, I'm pretty sure the cemetery was not only for people of UN member countries. 

As well as our 281 soldiers buried here, we could see the number of fallen soldiers from other countries too who were part of the UN Command, set up in 1951. Only 2300 troops are buried here. The actual loss of life from UN troops from the 16 member countries who participated in the Korean War, was actually 40, 896.

It is quite a big cemetery, 133, 701 square metres in total, with the most beautiful lawns I have ever seen.

It was very emotional reading these as we felt a felt connection to these men, being Australian and all and it's hard to explain but I felt a real bond as I read each plaque, as if I was on the other side of the world with each soldier and he was letting me be a part of something very personal to him.  It was a real privilege to be there, sharing in part of this man's story and so sad at the same time because I know his life was cut short at such a young age. He had his whole life ahead of him but he chose to put his life on the line for freedom and he lost it in the process.

I think we were just so honoured to be there and because it was so peaceful and quiet and everyone was very reverent and respectful, that it was easy to be moved and humbled by the bravery of the men buried beneath us.

There was a fish pond stream dedicated to the youngest solder buried there, a 17 year old Australian soldier.

This was the Wall of Remembrance, with all the names of the 40,896 UN troops that died in the Korean War. It was very sobering indeed and the number of American soldiers who fell just blew us away.

Every part of this area had a symbolic meaning. The pond was round to represent the earth and the reflection of the water presents the sky and the fallen and us looking into the pond, becoming united as One.

The long tall grey structure in the water, has a flame in the top that never goes out and represents eternity. The grey structure in the water next to it is a helmet signifying war and death.

The 21 fountains represent the 21 UN countries who participated, 16 providing military support and 4 providing medical support.

The flowers represent peace and life.

heading down to the UN Forces monument

Back toward the entrance is the memorabilia hall with lots of pictures and memorabilia. It was very interesting. I didn't even know Ethiopia was in the Korean War.

I'm so glad we got to go and experience the sereneness and sacredness of this place. The feelings reminded me a little of when we visited the war memorial in Canberra back in 2009, and it made us more aware and gave us a bit of perspective about what is going on in our day with the conflict going on around the world and our troops fighting away from home.

The next stop off on the city bus tour was the observatory and light house where we could look out over the Sea of Japan and see all the fishing vessels. It was a sight to see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great information filled blog yet again.
I love reading about all the places your family went.
I loved the war memorial, and could feel of the serenity you found there.
Love Lorraine.