In the early 1950s, Minnesota soldiers fought in Korea to help stop the spread of communism, but their service was undervalued and nearly forgotten.
On June 25, 1950, Communist-run North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea to the south. The United States responded to this perceived communist threat to democracy by promising to defend South Korea with troops and supplies. Rather than going alone, the United States joined fifteen allies from the United Nations to intervene as a peacekeeping force. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was chosen to lead the combined troops.
At first, the United Nations military force was successful in helping the South Koreans retake the land taken by the North. That fall, however, reinforcements from Communist China joined the North Koreans and together they overtook almost all of Korea. In the struggle for control, both armies and their allies advanced and retreated along the peninsula until the war became a stalemate along the 38th parallel, dividing Korea nearly in half. Sporadic fighting continued while both sides sought to resolve the conflict, and United States forces stayed in the war.
President Harry S. Truman explained the reasons for keeping the U.S. committed to war in April of 1951:
"The dangers are great. Make no mistake about it. Behind the North Koreans and Chinese Communists in the front lines stand additional millions of Chinese soldiers. And behind the Chinese stand the tanks, the planes, the submarines, the soldiers, and the scheming rulers of the Soviet Union. Our aim is to avoid the spread of the conflict."
But Americans were tired of fighting after having just finished World War II, and this United Nations police action halfway across the world garnered little attention or support at the time. Even today, the Korean War is called the Forgotten War.
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