My grandfather, Donald Grinstead, was drafted in the Korean War April 20, 1953. Three or four days before his basic training ended the war ended.
Somehow the fellas in charge lost paperwork that recorded a week of his company’s training at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. Instead of the regular 15 weeks of basic, the 2nd Battalion, 61st Infantry had to do 17 weeks.
“We were told our orders were cut from Korea,” he said. “Anyone who wanted to go over to help with a clean up deal could step forward. No one did, so no one had to go.”
Gramps was only 19 when he went in. He was an intermediate radio operator, able to tap out 30 or 40 words-a-minute in Morse code. He and my grandmother, Beverly, got married on August 29th 1953. She was 16.
Gramps said he wasn’t thinking at all about war when he was drafted. Both listened to the radio and watched TV about the war, but Grams said it was a major shock—“it came as if someone plowed you in the face.” She had mixed emotions about the whole situation of her husband fighting in a foreign war.
“You sure didn’t want Korea to come to the US, but you didn’t want your loved ones going to Korea,” she said. “It was a time of very mixed emotions.”
Subtly and honestly, she revealed a fear she had as a young girl of someone unknown force coming over and changing her way of life.
The New York Times article from June 1950 provided a blatant propagandistic statement about Russia’s accountability in the war: “…if North Koreans had Russian support…they could over-run the South with comparative ease. That would bring Communist forces to within 100 miles of the United States flank in Japan and raise grave new problems in connection with the precarious western position in Asia…North Korea’s declaration of war was ‘probably the next step of Soviet Russia to dominate Korea, Japan and probably the whole Far East.'”
The Korean Embassy in Washington was implementing fear as it provided reasoning behind the war itself; it was offered as common sense for readers. Whether speculation or manipulation, propaganda is incredibly simple and hides in plain sight.
Propaganda affected my young grandparents and still operates today in the same minuscule manner. Yet it carries a walloping affect when looked at from a historical perspective.
This 1950 article was blaming Russia for using “force of arms” “to intervene in a peaceful situation—yet in 2006 The Washington Post delivers a different truth.
The Washing Post article said “a letter from the U.S. ambassador inform[ed] the State Department that U.S. soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines. That letter—dated the day of the Army’s mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950—is the strongest indication yet hat such a policy existed for all U.S. forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the U.S. government.”
Intentions can be skewed by time and place, but as the U.S. held Russia “accountable” for violence, our higher military was involved in plans to enact violence.
It is invaluable to have a free press that can publish stories relating such negative news about our country’s actions in the past so that we can look at wars from all angles and learn to uncover the whispering killer that is propaganda. My grandparents may not have been aware of the underlying messages of fear and deception, but they knew in their hearts they didn’t want the violence.
[The NY Times archived article:http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F50D16FD3D5C127A93C7AB178DD85F448585F9%5D