Yoon Hee Keun, commissioner general of the Korea National Police Agency
[Photo provided by Korea National Police Agency]
I recently visited the U.S. to meet with the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to discuss comprehensive security cooperation, including action plans against cybercrime and terrorist threats. During the business trip, I visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. to express respect and gratitude to them. Many Americans watched me in police uniform raising my hand in salute. They might have wondered who I was and why an Asian showed this honor and respect for fallen American soldiers. In truth, I was contemplating why the U.S. government built the memorial for those who shed blood for another country in the middle of the capital and people continued visiting to remember fallen military veterans. Then I realized the “ethos of this society” that remembers and honors those who sacrificed themselves for the community.
The American people are well aware that, though war veterans risked their lives on behalf of other countries, they simultaneously sacrificed for freedom and peace - the universal values of humankind. They are very conscious that “remembering and honoring” the fallen soldiers is the backbone to safeguard a peaceful daily life and future prosperity.
All U.S. citizens know the value of reward for patriotism better than anyone, I believe, and that has enabled the country to be the world’s most dominant economic and military power. It is said that there is a strong belief among American soldiers and law enforcement officials that “if I dedicate my life for the community and my country, the people will remember me and take care of my family.”
It is unique in every developed country, including the U.S., to go all out to remember and honor those who sacrificed themselves for the public good. The elements of the state are the population, territory and sovereignty. Reward for patriotism, in particular, can be a key factor that makes it possible to protect the territory and nation and exercise the sovereignty.
There is a saying that “a nation that forgets its past has no future.” As a law enforcement officer, I would like to put that in this way, “if we don’t remember those who devoted themselves for our nation, there will be no peace and prosperity for the country.” In this respect, it is greatly encouraging to see the new veterans’ ministry, being upgraded to a cabinet-level body from its sub-ministry status.
The police recently launched a campaign of “the miracle of 100 KRW.” It is a fund-raising campaign for the children of police officers who died in service. I personally hope that this will be an opportunity for the children losing a parent to feel our deep affection for them. Hopefully, they recognize that we are proud of their parents and will never forget the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
This small but heartfelt action will bring hope and courage to the children of fallen heroes. It also serves as an opportunity for us to be proud of who we are. The idea that small but meaningful efforts can make a big difference has grabbed the attention of huge number of police officers.
I floated this idea with a calculation that if all police officers across the country join the drive, I could raise and deliver roughly 13.85 million won ($10,600) per month to children who lost a parent, but I was wrong. The idea has brought us more than 40 million won ($30,000) in just two months since it began. It would help the children, particularly those having medical needs, to relieve the financial burden caused by the death of a parent.
I reasonably call this campaign a small miracle for three reasons. First, this has driven 140,000 police officers together. Secondly, a salary statement showing the deducted 1000 won reminds us of their sacrifices. And last but not least, this small donation could give hope and courage to the children of fallen heroes. The inscription on the wall of the National Academy training FBI agents epitomizes the sentiment shared by us, law enforcement officials.
“May we never forget.”
(With 32 years of service, Yoon is the commissioner general of the Korea National Police Agency and has worked in various policing areas including the police administration and management, intelligence and public safety.)
By Yoon Hee Keun, commissioner general of the Korea National Police Agency
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