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2017-11-29 17:23
By Kwon Yule-jung



No quote in modern history has been more meaningful and well-known than the quote by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, from the Gettysburg Address in the context of the Civil War: “Government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Many people, including history buffs, do not know the exact location in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in which Lincoln delivered the speech. He delivered the speech at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, not at the White House or the U.S. Congress as is commonly thought, during the daytime on Nov. 19, 1863.

It is paramount for public officials to conduct themselves in performing their public duties and serving those who gave them those duties. I feel proud of the speech and its value, as I work for the Daejeon National Cemetery, even though the Korean environment and context differ from those of the United States in the mid-19th century.

Lincoln, the first president, George Washington, and the ‘New Deal’ president, Franklin Roosevelt, are usually considered by experts as the best among all U.S. presidents in history. However, Lincoln is considered the best president owing to his many brilliant achievements, including the emancipation of African-Americans from slavery in the United States, in addition to his noble devotion to the country and its citizens.

Another immortal quote by Lincoln about the patriotic spirit is as follows: “… let us strive … to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” The quote is from his inaugural address for his second term in 1865. At that time, there was no formal veterans’ organization in the United States. The quote indicates the nation’s unwavering commitment to soldiers and victims of the war and their families. His foresight led to the birth of the Veterans Administration in 1930, for which the legendary quote became a mission statement.

Lincoln also initiated the American National Cemetery system, which has gradually expanded to nearly 150 cemeteries around the United States, and contributed significantly to supporting soldiers who were killed in action or on duty and their families. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is based on these two systems, which reflect Lincoln’s patriotism and emphasis on democracy and the supreme value of selfless sacrifice for the country.

Our country’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs was influenced by the VA And was organized in 1961 after the country gained full independence from Japanese imperial colonial rule and after signing the Korean Armistice Agreement during the Korean War. Many veterans’ benefits and national cemeteries in Korea were benchmarked after the advanced and systemized ones of the United States, which could be traces to the time of Lincoln and the patriotic spirit of the mid-1860s.



The writer (england6227@hanmail.net) is the chief director of the Daejeon National Cemetery.

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