Creative writing — The story of the missing Fathers
The Korean War – the ongoing struggle
The Korean War that ended in 1953 with an armistice between South and North Korea, has yet to close the chapter of struggle for the families of US soldiers who participated in the war. In this war Communist North Korea was supported by Russia and China and the liberal South Korea was aided by the United States.
The families of the soldiers, who laid their life during the war in a foreign land, have ever been striving to bring back their remains from North Korea. Although, a few sets of remains had been sent back by the North Korea, a large number from the 33000 US force that fought in the war, is yet to be sent back. These soldiers have been categorised as Missing in Action by the US government and efforts were also made by the governments to bring them back.
Three daughters who have lost their fathers to this war have shared their experience of struggle to bring back the remains of their fathers.
Ms Gail Embery, daughter of Sgt.Coleman Edward, came to know about her father at the age of 10. He went to the war at the age of 18 and was declared missing after a few months. Her mother remarried and avoided the subject of her husband. Embery desperate to do something about the situation started attending meetings conducted by the government for the families of the Prisoners of War or the soldiers missing in action. There she came to know that her father was died of malnutrition in a North Korea prison camp and was also buried near that camp. She also tried to operationalise the search and identification of the remains. Herself 73, she says that authorities must understand that how important it is for the families and also for the soldiers to come back home.
First Lt Frank Salazar, father of Ms Diana Sanfilippo volunteered to participate in the war to fulfil his patriotic duty. Ms Diana has vague childhood memories of her father, who was only four when he left. She still remembers the strange intuition indicating her the impending dangers he is about to meet. He was declared missing and later she came to know that his plane was hit while he was on an exploration mission towards and north of Pyongyang. As it was getting very difficult for her to cope up with the situation, she devised her own ways to tackle it. She became a family therapist and the phycological knowledge helped her to come to terms with her loss. She also became a pilot to understand and share her father’s passion. Although, never declared dead officially, Ms Diana does not have any of his being alive now. He would have been 95 now.
Another daughter, Ms Janis Curran whose father was Navy fighter pilot, is trying to bring her father back. Lt. Charles Garrison was shielding the ground soldiers from North Korean army when his plane was hit and although he parachuted from the plane, rescue helicopter could not find him. It is perceived that he was taken as prisoner of war by North Korea. Ms Curran adds that it is very difficult to accept that your loved ones have gone through such horrific situations. And they are constantly missed, especially, at the time of some event in life such as marriage and births in the family. She wished his remains could be brought back when her mother, who never remarried, was alive. Her grandparents also died hoping that their son is still alive. Whenever the return will be possible, she intends to bury him beside her mother and grandparents.
Since the war ended with an armistice and not with a peace treaty, the relations between the two Koreas were never cordial, worsening the struggle of these families. However, the recent meeting between the US President and Supreme leader of North Korea has given new hopes to the bereaved families. These families are like a community having same priority and sharing same struggle.