I wrote my Veterans Day story about my revisit to my duty station in Korea in our News & Neighbor Nov. 9th edition. Actually my duty station at Camp Red Cloud in Uijongbu, Korea has been torn down and returned to the Koreans for development of a university. Many of the American Military bases have been eliminated or turned over to the Korean military, which is good. South Koreans maintain the security of the South and North Korean DMZ today. American military still have a significant force in country.
During our whirlwind tour of the beautiful country and ultra-modern Seoul, I still noticed how the Korean people and their society treat one another. I wrote about that in my story but something unique happened while we were at the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance Peace Conference and Gala Dinner. While we were sitting at our dinner table a distinguished Korean gentleman placed a book in my lap. No one else at my table was given the book, titled Korean Spirit and Culture III, Chung-Hyo-Ye. I put it in my suitcase and didn’t review it until last week. It got my attention.
As I mentioned in my Veterans Day story… “Koreans like Americans. I wish most of us could experience the respect and love that Koreans have for themselves. They respect and honor one another. We saw it every day on our trip. They help one another.”
Over the past decade our American society has slipped towards the negative. Folks in the Baby Boomer age group probably see it more than our kids or grandchildren. We don’t respect one another as much. We can do better. That’s a huge generalized statement because we still have wonderful and respectful people everywhere in our American society. But, we can do better and when you compare us to a society like the Koreans have maintained for thousands of years. Yes, we can do a heck of a lot better.
The Preface of the book the Korean gave me hit home when I read it last week. Please take a moment to read it below. It will make you feel better.
Korean Spirit and Culture III, Chung-Hyo-Ye
Korea is a nation that has always loved peace and has done everything in its power to preserve it. In its five thousand years of history, Korea has never invaded other countries. Based on the teachings of Hongik Ingan, which means one should ‘live and act for the benefit of all mankind,’ reverence for the Heavens and respect for human life is deeply rooted in the spirit of the Korean people.
Traditionally, large family households consisting of more than three generations are very common in Korean society. Within these large families, elder family members looked after younger family members, and children learned to treat their elders with respect. They also learned to put the interests of others first and take care of their younger siblings. Growing up in such a way serves as the basis for an attitude that places the good of one’s neighbor and society above one’s own. It also serves as a foundation for the willingness to sacrifice oneself for one’s country.
It continues… This book is a collection of stories about love and devotion, many of which are taken directly from historical records, and some classic folktales. They are stories about awareness of one’s roots, about love for one’s parents, about love between siblings, and about love of one’s country and one’s people, based on the spirit that puts ‘us,’ before ‘me.’