By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that his country needs to commemorate the sacrifice of Korean War veterans "with deeds, not just with words."
In a proclamation to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the three-year Korean War, Obama described it as a "conflict that defined a generation and decided the fate of a nation."
He added, "Most of all, we remember those brave Americans who gave until they had nothing left to give. No monument will ever be worthy of their service, and no memorial will fully heal the ache of their service. But as a grateful nation, we must honor them -- not just with words, but with deeds."
Leading U.N. troops, the U.S. fought in the Korean War alongside South Korea against an invading North Korea backed by China.
The war came to an end with an armistice on July 27, 1953. According to the U.S. government, 36,573 American troops were killed, with 103,284 others wounded.
Obama said this week's anniversary marks not only the end of a war but also "the beginning of a long and prosperous peace."
He cited South Korea's rapid economic development and democratization over the past six decades.
"Together, we have built a partnership that remains a bedrock of stability throughout the Pacific," he said. "So as we mark this milestone, let us offer a special salute to our Korean War veterans."
Obama called upon all Americans to observe the day with "appropriate ceremonies and activities" to honor Korean War veterans.
He plans to deliver remarks at a formal Armistice Day ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
He will become the first U.S. president to attend such an event to mark the armistice.
Earlier in the day, a congressional reception was held on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice and the birth of Seoul-Washington alliance.
Dozens of Korean War veterans attended the event at the Cannon House Office Building. The participants included South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Ahn Ho-young, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), a Korean War veteran, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Korea, and Rep. Kim Jung-hoon of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party.
Kim, who leads the National Policy Committee at the National Assembly, is leading a special delegation sent by President Park Geun-hye.
"On behalf of the government of the Republic of Korea and its people, I express my deepest gratitude to the U.S. war veterans and their families," Kim said. "They shed their sweat, blood, and tears 60 years ago, wanting nothing in return in a far-away foreign land -- the Republic of Korea -- to defend freedom and peace."
Connolly said the Korean War is no longer a forgotten war but an "honored war."
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