Over the long holiday weekend at the beginning of this month, I escorted some visitors from my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas to the DMZ.
|▲ Samuel Alexander Denny, Jr. is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Education at Sangmyung University in Seoul. He has lived in South Korea for 12 years and is an enthusiast of local history and co-author of Through the Gate of Violet Glow: A Short Historical Survey of the Northwestern Neighborhood of Seoul.|
After going to Imjingak in Paju to pay our respects at the statue of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), who made the fateful decision for the US to intervene in the Korean War, we visited soldiers of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army 25th Infantry Division.
I was struck by the serenity and beauty we encountered in the midst of the most highly militarized strip of land on earth on this lovely spring morning. To our astonishment, we heard birds singing happily and frogs calling out their greetings as we watched soldiers counting rounds of ammunition in a bunker. It reminded me of family vacations of my youth when I visited battlefields of the American Civil War (1861-1865) with my father who was an avid history buff.
Despite being places of mass death and tremendous carnage and suffering, these battle sites have now become lush green nature preserves enjoyed by thousands of tourists each year.
As we were receiving our briefing from a ROK army sergeant and looking across at the southern limit line of the DMZ, a young deer suddenly appeared running carefree next to the fence line.
We all stopped and stared speechlessly at the graceful scene as did the ROK army soldiers working nearby. In that moment watching the deer so oblivious to its militarized surroundings, I felt a sense of hopefulness in the refreshing spring air.
Could actual peace be coming to this Peninsula after almost 70 years of being in a state of war? I don’t know what the outcome will be of the upcoming summit on June 12th, but I share in the sentiment of the famed 18th century literary giant Alexander Pope (1688-1744) who declared, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Although I have lived in Korea long enough to have my doubts, I want to embrace this season of hope and wish for the best!
Writer Information : Samuel Alexander Denny, Jr. is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Education at Sangmyung University in Seoul. He has lived in South Korea for 12 years and is an enthusiast of local history and co-author of Through the Gate of Violet Glow: A Short Historical Survey of the Northwestern Neighborhood of Seoul.
Samuel Alexander Denny, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org