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Tag: Korean War

Korean War exhibit in Seoul features National Archives images

Truman Library Director Mike Devine stumbled upon this Korean War exhibit while visiting his wife in Seoul, South Korea. The images used in the exhibit are from NARA holdings.

When Harry S. Truman Library Director Mike Devine flew to Seoul, South Korea, the last thing he expected to see was an enormous outdoor exhibit featuring photos from the holdings of the National Archives.

“In the last decade or so, we’ve had quite a number of researchers from Korea to the Truman Library to copy thousands and thousands of images. Still, I was surprised to see this in this big outdoor exhibit,” Devine said. “As I got closer, I was like, ‘Hey! That’s our stuff!’”

The outdoor exhibit was not co-sponsored by the National Archives but was the work of a private group. It showed the United States and United Nations support for the Republic of Korea in the aftermath of the North Korean invasion in June of 1951. The exhibit features more than 150 images from the Truman Library and other National Archives facilities.

The exhibit was held just outside Seoul's large governmental center.

The exhibit is on Seoul’s main thoroughfare in the city’s governmental center. Also displayed are the flags of the 67 nations that supported the people of Korea during the 1950–53 war and its immediate aftermath. It was sponsored by World Peace and Freedom United and is intended to … [ Read all ]

“You’re Fired!”

Proposed orders to dismiss Gen. Douglas MacArthur, April 11, 1951 (Truman Library; ARC 201516)

Proposed orders to dismiss Gen. Douglas MacArthur, April 11, 1951 (Truman Library; ARC 201516)

Harry S. Truman was never really fond of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, especially after their frosty 1950 Wake Island meeting in the Pacific while the Korean War raged.

Things had not gone particularly well since the North Koreans invaded South Korea in late June 1950. By October, South Korean troops had pushed across the 38th parallel, but there were warnings that the Chinese would enter the war. The general discounted the warnings and predicted he could send large numbers of troops home by Christmas. In late November, hundreds of thousands of Chinese roared into South Korea.

But in early 1951, MacArthur handed Truman a reason to get rid of him. Insubordination—publicly criticizing American policy in interviews and public statements.

MacArthur had even written a letter, in which he criticized Truman’s handling of the war, to Joseph Martin, the House Republican leader. Martin read it on the floor of the House. For Commander-in-Chief Truman, this was the final straw.

The President, suspecting MacArthur might see that his days were numbered and resign before he could act, moved quickly, announcing the dismissal at 1 a.m. on April 11, 1951:

“With deep regret, I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the … [ Read all ]

Memories of Korea in Missouri

With her brother on her back, a Korean girl trudges by a stalled tank in Haengju, Korea, June 9, 1951. Photo by Air Force Major R. V. Spencer

With her brother on her back, a Korean girl trudges by a stalled tank in Haengju, Korea, June 9, 1951. Photo by Air Force Maj. R. V. Spencer (80-G-429691)

For the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the staff at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO, wanted to try something different.

“Instead of doing a straightforward chronological presentation, we also wanted to focus on the personal experiences,” said curator Clay Bauske. The team worked for a year, collecting stories and memorabilia of people who were involved in and affected by the war.

“Memories of Korea” will run through December 31, 2010.

The exhibit combines handwritten letters and diary entries with first-person interviews, photographs, and footage from the war. These intimate accounts are presented against a backdrop of four thematic areas that cover the cultural history, political context, personal experiences, and the legacy and future of Korea.

The library received support and interest for the exhibit from the community surrounding Independence. Plans for the commemorative Korean War programs and exhibition were posted on the library’s website and in local magazines. “After we put up the schedule, people started calling us to contribute their personal memorabilia,” said Bauske.

The team worked with the Center for the Study of the Korean War, also located in Independence. Through this partnership, the library borrowed items from the … [ Read all ]