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Biographic Sketch & Links: Chairman Henry J. Hyde
September 15, 2005
His Excellency Roh Moo Hyun
Republic of Korea
c/o The Embassy of the Republic of Korea
2450 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear President Roh:
We wish to extend greetings to both you and the people of Korea on the occasion of the lunar Chusok holiday of September 18-19, a time for family gatherings and festivities, which serves as the most important date on the Korean calendar. Allow us to take this occasion to wish both you and the people of the Republic of Korea a continuation of that unparalleled peace and prosperity which your nation has enjoyed since our two nations stood together to repel Communist aggression over a half-century ago. September also marks a crucial commemorative date in our alliance, the 55th anniversary
today of the Inchon landing, the turning point in the Korean War. General Douglas MacArthur's brilliant naval maneuver of landing Allied forces behind enemy lines at the port of Inchon, despite the high tidal waves encountered in the harbor, caught the North Korean aiuly off guard and assured the liberation of Seoul. As Allies we should cherish together the memory of that victory and remember the sacrifices of those who served under General MacArthur's command, especially those who died in battle. A Chinese proverb states that "those who drink the water should remember those who dug the well." Without the victory at Inchon, there would be no Republic of Korea today.
We, in the Congress, however, are disturbed to read reports of a number of activists who have gathered around General MacArthur's statue above Inchon Harbor in the past several months, most recently on September 11th, and have engaged in violent attempts to tear down the statue. This movement to topple the MacArthur statue is reportedly gaining momentum around the anniversary date of the Inchon landing. According to U.S. press reports, "young radical leftists have led assaults on the 15-foot-tall statue." A complaint filed with the quasi-governmental Republic of Korea National Human Rights Commission, which is reviewing the statue controversy, condemns MacArthur as "a war criminal who massacred numerous civilians."
Needless to say, Mr. President, the Congress of the United States and the American people would never subscribe to such a description of a hero who led the Allied forces which liberated the Republic of Korea twice, first from the yoke of Japanese colonialism sixty years ago this summer and, secondly, through the brilliant execution of the Inchon landing fifty-five years ago this month. Our critical bilateral alliance was forged in the crucible of Inchon. The common sacrifices, goals and achievements which sprang out of Inchon form, in our opinion, the continuing basis for our alliance. We presume that the Government of the Republic of Korea shares this view of the critical importance of the Inchon landing and the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur.
Mr. President, your reported observation that an assault on General MacArthur's statue would "offend not only the U.S. Government but also its people" is entirely accurate. We note the reported instructions of Prime Minister Lee Hae-char at a recent Cabinet meeting to deal firmly with illegal attempts to topple the statue. We would appreciate official assurance that your Government will take all necessary action to prevent the defilement or destruction of General MacArthur's statue.
In the Chamber of the House of Representatives, directly behind the Speaker's podium, hang two portraits. On one side is that of George Washington, America's first President. On the other, however, is the picture of a foreign friend, a soldier who came from afar to assist in the common cause of American independence. That portrait is of the Marquis de Lafayette. For more than two hundred years, his memory has been implanted deep in the hearts of the American people. We would hope that General MacArthur is so remembered in the hearts of the South Korean people. If this is not the case, however, and the violent attempts to topple the statue continue, we would respectfully suggest that, rather than allowing the General's statue to be defaced or torn down, the people of Inchon and all of South Korea turn over the statue of General MacArthur to the American people. We in the Congress would make every effort to assure that his statue is packed and shipped to the United States where it would be erected in a place of honor in the Nation's Capital, perhaps in the vicinity of the Korean War Memorial.
Mr. President, we look forward to an official response from your Government regarding the pressing issue of the statue of General Douglas MacArthur above Inchon Harbor. And, once again, we wish to extend to you and the Korean people best wishes for the Chusok holiday. With best wishes,