This month marks 68 years since the Korean War. The war is not often talked about and is sometimes referred to as “the forgotten war,” but it was still one with heroes and casualties like every other war. 

Peace medals were handed out Monday to veterans from the South Korean government to thank them for protecting their freedoms.

Veteran Porter Stanley says it was a time in his life he’ll never forget.

“If you lost friends over there, every time it comes up, it means a lot,” he said.

His and others’ sacrifices were honored Monday.

“I’m the least guy here to get a medal. I mean that sincerely, but I’ll take it for what my buddies did,” said Stanley.

“One of the things that we always wonder for those of us who have been in the military, and those of us who have gone to war, was it worth it?” said State Sen. Richard Briggs. “And when we look at the contrast of North and South Korea today, the American servicemen that sacrificed to go over there for their freedom, now has a country that’s one of the wealthiest in the world. Some of the largest companies in the world and they’re a beacon of freedom for all of Asia. So, in this particular conflict I think it’s fair to say that it was worth it.”

“When I came back, a lady interviewed me from the paper in Memphis. She said, ‘Don’t you feel like you just wasted a year of your life?’ I said, ‘No ma’am, there’s still a South Korea,'” said Stanley.

 According to the Department of Defense, 36,574 U.S. troops died in the Korean War. More than 100,000 were wounded and 7,704 American soldiers are still unaccounted for as of this April.