The North Korean leader made a rare public appearance Thursday morning, kicking off official events as the isolated country begins marking a key anniversary.
Marshal Kim Jong Un cut a red ribbon to inaugurate what is officially known as the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery. Soldiers in dress uniforms briefly goose stepped at the event, kicking off days of commemoration of what the country considers the 1953 victory over U.S.-led United Nations forces on the Korean Peninsula.
Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which halted three years of devastating combat. No peace treaty has ever been signed to end the stalemate.
At the cemetery’s inauguration were two highly decorated U.S. veterans of that war. Medal of Honor winner Thomas Hudner, who was a Navy pilot, was invited as part of his visit to the country during which he hoped to gain access to the Chosin Reservoir battle site where his wingman, Jesse Brown, crash-landed. Hudner, who is 88, says the ceremony at the cemetery was an emotional experience as he remembered his fallen comrades
"Well it's a very emotional occasion to be here with so many veterans - not only the veterans but also the people of the nation who turned out to show their support to all of veterans," he said. "And as an American veteran, I am delighted to see that our former foe and we share some of the same feelings about this. So it is great to be here."
Hudner added he regards these types of memorials as a tribute to all of the war’s combatants, regardless of which side they were on. The American veteran, who crash-landed his plane in an unsuccessful effort to rescue Brown, intends to return here in September to precisely locate the remains of his fellow pilot. His hopes to reach the site this week were thwarted by severe flooding in the country.