A very special ceremony took place in Hawaii yesterday, or several of them actually, but you probably didn’t see it covered on many cable news outlets or in our larger newspapers. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived on the island of Oahu with an honor guard. They were there to repatriate the remains of six United States military members and nearly seventy South Korean soldiers who fell during the Korean War. The ceremonies were performed in the appropriately solemn fashion you would expect when our long-overdue troops are finally returned to take up their final resting place on American soil. Moon Jae-in also awarded distinguished service medals posthumously to two Korean immigrant soldiers. There was one notably absent aspect to these ceremonies, however. The White House didn’t dispatch any high-level officials to greet the South Korean president or participate in the ceremonies at the joint base at Pearl Harbor. He was instead met by Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command. (Hawaii News Now)
South Korean President Moon Jae-In and First Lady Kim Jung-Sook were on Oahu Wednesday to honor fallen servicemembers.
They attended the first-ever joint repatriation ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in the afternoon.
There, the remains of 68 Republic of Korea soldiers and 6 U.S. service members who died during the Korean War were returned.
The ceremony was held to honor those fallen warriors 71 years since the start of the Korean War on June 25.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has a lovely collection of photos from these ceremonies if you’d like to get a sense of this important historical event.
To be clear, I’m not trying to take anything away from or in any way discredit Admiral John Christopher Aquilino. He is a highly decorated officer with a long and distinguished career serving his country since graduating from the Naval Academy in 1984. He’s an experienced combat pilot and is responsible for overseeing the United States Indo-Pacific Command, the largest Unified Combatant Command on the planet. Our nation owes him a great debt of honor for his service.
With that said, however, USINDOPACOM is headquartered just outside of Honolulu. It didn’t involve much of a trip for the Admiral to meet the South Korean president. Meanwhile, Moon Jae-in is the President of a nation that has stood as one of our staunchest military and diplomatic allies since before most of us were born and they sit on the front line of one of the most incendiary hotspots on the planet. He came to the United States from halfway around the world to fulfill a sacred obligation to our country.
Having put that much effort into it, couldn’t the Biden administration put forth a bit more effort to participate in these events on an equally lofty level? I suppose I can understand that Joe Biden was too busy to attend because he was tied up with all of the United Nations dramatics and his trainwreck of a press conference with Boris Johnson. But couldn’t he have dispatched Kamala Harris? After all, these sorts of ceremonies are pretty much what the Vice Presidency exists for. Or if not the Veep, couldn’t we at least have sent the Secretary of Defense, particularly given the military nature of the event?
Moon Jae-in seems to have delivered his remarks and conducted the presentations in a dignified, professional manner. But you have to wonder if he wasn’t privately sensing at least a bit of a slight in the way he was greeted. We’re already seeing far too many instances where our allies are up in arms over the foreign policy debacles of the Biden administration. (When France pulls their ambassadors out of Washington you know something is going off the rails.) We don’t need to add South Korea to that list.