Friday, October 19, 2018

Diplomacy in Progress

c1950. Korea. Refugees are on the move over an unimproved road that has already been reduced to muddy ruts by military traffic. A G.I. shares a treat from his ration box: a Jim Dandee cookie? A Brachs candy? Or a stick of gum?  That it came from a five-year-old ration box didn't matter to this little girl.

The young man to the right rear is an enigma.  Ostensibly a civilian, he bears a load on the A-frame perched on his back. He is old enough to be a soldier. Why has he not joined ranks with the Republic of Korea army to defend his country?  Is he travelling covertly as a scout for the North Korean Peoples Army, or as a guerilla sympathetic to those forces? If so, he was hardly unique.

Even this brutal war allowed humanity to display brief moments of kindness. The identities and fates of these individuals are unknown. We can only hope they forged memories durable enough to detract from the hardships that each would endure.

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