Korean Christmas

Thomas M. Bunkall tells the following story from his time in the Korean War:

A week before Christmas we went on a well-earned R&R to a Quonset Hut.  It was so nice since we could get a hot shower, clean clothes and a delicious meal.  A welcomed change from the K-rations left over from World War II which had been our meals since arriving at the post.  As I was leaving the mess hall, I emptied the leftovers into a barrel.  Near the barrel was a little, raggedly-dressed Korean girl (about 7 years old).  She coaxed for the food in exchange for a paper flower she had made.  I thought she was gathering food for piglets her family was raising.  One container had coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate, and a cigarette floating on the top.  The other had a mixture of beans, potatoes, meat, bread–whatever the meal of the day consisted of.  In the morning, the little girl was accepting the breakfast food leftovers.  I overheard a GI say, “Good morning, Blossom!”  Inquiring who she was, I learned they allowed her to come into the camp to collect food for her family.  I thought about our K-rations, which seemed like a Thanksgiving dinner in comparison.  After learning of her situation, the GI’s were much more particular about sorting the food and liquids.  We always had an extra slice of bread, cookies, or apples to give her.  The R&R pesonnel said the new group coming in would learn her routine without their instructions.  She never missed a meal–three times a day, seven days a week.  I was impressed.  In the summer, she replaced the paper flowers with wild flowers at every evening meal.  Always a smile, always a bow or curtsy, always very happy.  Hence the name Blossom. . .

We found a two foot-high pine tree for a Christmas tree.  We had saved silver tin foil from chewing gum which we rolled into tiny balls for decorations.  I bedded down in my bunker on Christmas Eve thinking about Blosson, where she was planted and how happy she was.  She had little; I had little.  She was happy, and I was happy because of her.  I was told a 24-hour period of silence was declared by the United Nations Command.  No small arms, artillery, or air strikes of any kind on Christmas Day were allowed.  Because of this, it was a silent night and all was calm.  I closed my eyes and said a prayer for all the GI’s in Korea and for Blossom and her family.  I was happy where I was planted because of a 7-year-old Korean girl.  That night I slept in Heavenly peace and awoke to a beautiful Christmas day.  The sun was shining and everything was covered with glistening snow.  The great quiet and peaceful feeling was wonderful!

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