Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea [as delivered]

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Busan (Republic of Korea), 30 November 2011


Today we honour the 2,300 fallen heroes from 11 countries who found their final rest in this quiet and sacred place.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, as a Korean and above all as a citizen of our world I pay my deepest respects to the 2,300 fallen heroes.

More than half a century ago, they stood against communist aggression. They fought and died so that we could be here today, living in larger freedom. We shall never forget them.

This is the only United Nations cemetery in the world. And I am the first United Nations Secretary-General to visit these hallowed grounds.

It is a deep and profoundly moving privilege to be here with you. As a Korean, you are my countrymen ... my brothers and sisters. To the veterans among you, especially, I offer the thanks and best wishes of a grateful world and a United Nations that is indebted to your service and your sacrifice.

I also thank the citizens of Busan, who come each day to lay wreaths of remembrance. You will always be in my thoughts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This place has special meaning for me, personally.

As a young boy, I watched the United Nations-blue flag fly. I knew many of the soldiers who defended my country. They were brave and they were kind.

You remember, then, that Korea was on the verge of collapse. It was the courage of soldiers from 16 peace-loving nations and the support of five others who saved Korea from tyranny and helped to bring us to where we are today.

Now, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am pleased to see this sacred place has become a beautiful monument to the brave UN soldiers who gave their lives for a noble ideal ... the vision of collective security enshrined in the UN Charter.

This United Nations Memorial Cemetery is proof that countries and peoples of all cultures, faiths and geographies can unite to fight for universal principles ... freedom, justice, democracy.

To the families of those who rest here, to their descendants and my fellow countrymen, I say:

Thank you on behalf of the grateful people of the Republic of Korea.

Thank you on behalf of the United Nations.

Let me conclude with a wise and ancient saying: “What you give, you shall receive.”

During the war, this port of Busan was the gateway for UN troops to Korea. Today, Busan is where Korea sends forth its own peacekeepers into the world.

More recently, I am grateful that the Korean Government has chosen to send a peacekeeping contribution to the new nation of South Sudan.

And so we come full circle, past to present. What an inspiration.

Dear friends,

Today, we remember those who fell in freedom's name, and we remember the families and communities that still suffer from the war's grim legacy.

Let us recommit ourselves to reuniting this Peninsula so that all Koreans can live in peace and prosperity for generations to come.

I will leave all the more determined to carry forward the cause of peace for which these heroes gave their lives.

I thank you very much. Kamsa-hamnida [thank you].