The South Korean government wanted to thank the Native Americans of Navajo Nation for their service so many decades ago.
Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.
Navajo Nation is one of the regions most affected by the ongoing pandemic. In comparison to infection and mortality rates across the United States, the residents of the Navajo Nation are disproportionately affected. The South Korean government recognized this and decided to help them out. Therefore, they delivered 10,000 masks and other Personal Protective Equipment to the region, The Korea Herald reports. The government claimed it was a way to honor Native Americans' service as "code talkers" during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Code talkers were indigenous folks who utilized their native language as an indecipherable code for radio messages in order for the American military to maintain confidentiality.
South Korea is now sending aid to the Navajo Nation. They sent 5,000 pounds of supplies, including PPE. pic.twitter.com/0laSCEJvd3— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) May 26, 2020
The initiative was carried out by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in collaboration with the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona, and United States Representative Greg Stanton. Medical students from the university gathered over the Memorial Day weekend to load supplies to distribute to the Native American community. In total, South Korea donated more than 10,000 N95 masks and 3.9 tons of supplies. The PPE was transported to the Navajo and Hopi Nations and other rural communities of northern Arizona. Representative Stanton said of the initiative, "What’s really special about this is that they heard about how difficult it was at the Navajo Nation and they wanted to help because the Navajo people helped them during the Korean War. This is a decades-long thank you, and for me, it’s very touching and beautiful."
Some 800 American Navajo fought in the Korean War in the early 1950s. In a show of gratitude, South Korea now is providing 10,000 masks and other PPP to the Navajo Nation as it struggles with Covid-19: https://t.co/wBUFGusHmb— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) May 17, 2020
Committee co-chairman Kim Eun-gi added, "The government remembers those who made noble sacrifices to defend a strange country 70 years ago, and we hope they will proudly tell their posterity about the choice they made so many years ago." The United States allied with South Korea during the Korean War, allowing them to ultimately sign the Korean Armistice Agreement with North Korea. While a peace treaty was never signed, forcing the two countries into a frozen conflict, the service of Native Americans was of immeasurable help.
In gratitude for the Navajo veterans who served in the Korean War, the S. Korean govt donated 10K masks and other PPE to the Navajo Nation. I was honored to partner with the AZ Korean Ass’n to help facilitate this donation. Many thanks to @uazmedphx for helping w/ the delivery. pic.twitter.com/Na75L71R5R— Rep. Greg Stanton (@RepGregStanton) May 23, 2020
This is only one of South Korea's initiatives to extend a helping hand to those who need it most during this challenging time. On Sunday, the country provided testing kits worth $1 million in humanitarian aid to Iran. Earlier this year, in April, the South Korean government also delivered $200,000 worth of medical equipment to the Middle Eastern nation. South Korea is one of the few countries to beat the pandemic. Through ensuring one of the highest testing rates per capita, the country was able to track and manage new cases with an efficiency unparalleled by many "developed" countries in the West.
A small piece of heartwarming news— awaiting cinematic avengers stevetony reboot (@artingkrusca) June 5, 2020
(Also the fact korea just did more for the navajo nation than the US govmnt lol)https://t.co/jA4ch1uVrU
In the United States, for instance, the number of deaths has crossed 100,000 people. Iran, too, is struggling; with over 120,000 active cases, it is one of the worst-affected nations across the world. Thankfully, South Korea and other countries have stepped up in recognition of the importance of cooperation and teamwork in a globalized world. While we may be closing off our borders, it is not the time to be closing off our hearts to our neighbors' struggles.