PANMUNJOM, Korea -- The war lasted three years, cost millions of lives and left a small peninsula nation divided. But it fell between World War II and Vietnam, earning it the moniker of ''Forgotten War'' in the annals of American memory.
Fifty years after North Korea attacked the South as Koreans slept, Korean War veterans from the United States and elsewhere gathered at former battlegrounds this week to remember.
One American veteran brought the South Korean flag he saved from his days as a U.S. marine in the early 1950s; another returned to the port city of Inchon where his flotilla launched the daring landing that would change the course of the 1950-53 war.
''I take exception to the ignominious label of 'Forgotten War,''' said retired Rear Adm. William T. Thompson, who brought Navy veterans to South Korea for Sunday's 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. ''It was a cornerstone in the fall of communism. It was the first time we stepped up to Stalin to stop his attempt at world domination.''
But even as veterans revisited old battle sites and peered across the Military Demarcation Line to communist North Korea, celebrations for Sunday's anniversary were muted, with both Koreas seeking small but symbolic ways to begin repairing five decades of enmity.
During last week's historic inter-Korean summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il announced that he had canceled war anniversary celebrations.
The South canceled its military parade and battle re-enactments as well earlier this week.
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