Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice and there will be parades and ceremonies across Alberta, including in Calgary.
The three-year war started in 1950 when North Korea tried to take South Korea by force. It was mainly a result of the political division of Korea by the Allies at the end of World War II — the peninsula had been ruled by Japan and the division saw a communist government established in North Korea and a democratic government in South Korea. It has often been called Canada's 'Forgotten War' because so many Canadians are not aware of the extent of Canada's contribution.
"You see people saying it's 'The Forgotten War' but man, for the families of those who lost their lives, both on the Koreans, on the Chinese and on the West, it was anything but 'The Forgotten War,'" said Rob Hubert, a professor with the University of Calgary's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
A veterans' parade takes place at 11 a.m. MT at The Military Museums of Calgary.
Canada contributed more than 26,000 soldiers to the war, and 516 of those never came home.
World leaders refused to appease North Korea
Initially, many thought the war would be over quickly.
After the division of Korea in 1945, the U.S. had occupied the South and the Soviet Union occupied the North. When the U.S. withdrew in 1949, North Korea, backed by Soviet troops, invaded the South.
For the international community, that sparked memories of failed appeasement efforts with leaders like Germany's Adolf Hitler.
"Here's the Soviets being just as aggressive, using military force to try to conquer others and that really, to a large degree both in Canada and amongst our allies, really said, 'Okay, we have to push back, we're not going to appease them,'" said Hubert.
Canada became involved following a United Nations resolution and an invasion by China of South Korea.
One of the key battalions in the war, the 2nd Battalion within Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, trained in Calgary and at CFB Wainright, before heading to South Korea. Canada also sent eight destroyers to the Korean peninsula.
Once the war ended in 1953, Canadian forces stayed behind for three years as military observers.