By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the U.S. won a historic victory in the 1950-53 Korean War, adding the sacrifice of war veterans will never be forgotten.
"Here today, we can say with confidence, that war was no tie, Korea was a victory," Obama said in a speech at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
He said about 50 million South Koreans are living in freedom and a vibrant democracy in stark contrast to the repression and poverty of North Korea.
"That is a victory and that is your legacy," Obama told veterans in the crowd.
He was attending a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement that ended the conflict.
Nearly 37,000 American troops were killed in the war, fighting alongside South Korea against invading North Korea backed by China. It came to a halt with a ceasefire on July 27, 1953.
Obama stressed the Korean War is no longer a "forgotten war" and veterans "deserve better."
"Unlike the Second World War, Korea did not galvanize our country. These veterans did not return to parades," he pointed out. "Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country. These veterans did not return to protests. For many Americans tired of war, there was it seemed a desire to forget, to move on."
Obama said, "Here in America, no war should ever be forgotten. No veteran should ever be overlooked."
He became the first American president to join a formal Armistice Day event.
More than 5,000 people attended Saturday's ceremony, according to organizers.
Other participants included U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Also attending were Gen. Jung Seung-jo, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm, James A. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Rep. Kim Jung-hoon of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, who heads a special delegation sent by President Park Geun-hye.
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