President Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, was the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces when the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950.
Instead of declaring war, President Truman went to the United Nations to provide US-led military assistance to South Korea. This led to 21 other nations participating in the Korean War under the United Nations Command.
Between 1950 and 1953, 1.8 million Americans served in Korea, and more than 36,500 did not return home.
President Truman himself, a decorated WWII veteran, never forgot these sacrifices. When asked later in his life what his toughest decision was as President, he stated that it was to enter the Korean War. His presidential library in Independence, MO, displays an angry letter that was sent to the President in 1953 by the father of George Banning, a young soldier who had recently been killed in Korea. When President Truman passed away 20 years later, this letter was discovered in his desk along with Banning’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart.