"Please find Lt. Elliott": Korean fifth grader's moving letter touches America
Updated: 2021-10-25 05:43:13 KST
"Lieutenant Elliott, thank you so much for protecting my country. What a lucky girl I am to be living here in peace with my family. You have my utmost respect. Sincerely, Yoo Ah-jin, Waegwan Elementary School."
For Yoo Ah-jin, a fifth grader living in Chilgok-gun County, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, the Korean War is much more than "text book history".
It's a reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers from around the world who fought to protect South Korea especially First Lieutenant James Elliott of the United States Army.
"I was just running around in the park like I always do when I noticed a small, unfamiliar memorial by the river. There was such a sad story written on it that I just had to find a way to help out."
Lieutenant Elliott went missing in action while on voluntary night patrol along the Nakdong River in 1950.
Heartbroken to read that his children still await their father's return, Yoo wrote to the governor of Chilgok-gun County in August, asking him to find the soldier's remains so he can rejoin his family in the U.S.
"Ah-jin's innocent, thoughtful soul has touched so many people. Like an ambassador, she demonstrates how much Korea cherishes war veterans and their patriotism. Her act motivates me to recover as many bodies as we can and return them home."
Eventually, her letter reached the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and moved by Yoo's words, acting ambassador Chris Del Corso, a former Marine, wrote back thanking the young girl for her compassion and historical awareness.
But no American was more touched than Lieutenant Elliott's own daughter, Jorja, who visited Korea with her brother in 2015 and scattered some of their mother's ashes into the Nakdong River so she can be reunited with her long lost husband.
"It was just so, so touching that she would even think about my brother and me, now in our seventies, living without our father. I mean how many children would think of that really She would always be welcome in our home and if she would like to stay with us while she's in the United States, we could show her around. I would love that."
Yoo hopes to visit Ms. Elliott-Reyburn in Idaho one day and when she does, she'll tell her not to weep for her father didn't leave in vain.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News, Chilgok-gun County.