Pacific Stars and Stripes,
Dec. 25, 1952
WITH 1ST MARINE DIV, Dec. 25
(INS)- The Korean town of Tong Mon-ni is a long way from the Judean
town of Bethlehem. But the spirit born in Bethlehem 1,952 years ago
will hover over the mud huts of Tong Mon-ni on Dec. 25.
On Christmas day, grateful Korean townspeople
will present a scroll and a ceremonial Korean costume to Father William
P. Lane, Chicago, chaplain of the 11th Marine Regiment.
Then, Father Lane will carry off 50 children for
a turkey-and-trimmings Christmas dinner, presents, and carol singing
with the marines.
The Christmas spirit has dwelt in Ton Mon-ni since
Aug. 17. That was the day the 11th Marines "adopted" the town's 4,000
men, women, and children.
SINCE THAT time the Marines have presented more
than three tons of assorted clothing, food, and gifts to Tong Mon-ni.
Korean kids in Sears-Robuck dungarees and plaid shirts are walking
evidence of the Marine's bounty.
Today, in an alcove in the village hospital stands
a Christmas tree draped with crepe paper and silver crosses. An arch
of evergreens covers the spot where Police Chief Oh Sung Suk of Ton
Mon-ni will tell Father Lane what the Marines' generosity has meant
to his people.
Chief Oh will wear his usual costume of marine-green
trousers and shirt, bright plaid socks, and white Korean rubber shoes.
Father Lane will wear a long, white, bell-shaped
Korean robe and a high hat of black lacquered wicker.
"When the Marines first found
our village," Chief Oh said, "we were desperate. The village was jam-packed
with refugees evacuated from forward areas and there wasn't enough
to eat even for the townspeople themselves."
"THE PITIFUL state of the children,"
Chief Oh continued, "first aroused the Marines' sympathy. Then they
saw how badly we all needed help and began to shower us with clothing,
food, medicines, building materials, and much kindness."
The "cage" will be empty on Christmas day through
a special amnesty. The "cage" is the barbed wire enclosure where Chief
Oh "imprisons" children who persist in wandering northward into the
prohibited combat zone.
The Christmas spirit is strong in Koreans as well
as in marines. Townspeople strive to help the even more unfortunate
"Christmas never meant anything
to us in the past," said Chief Oh. "After all, most of us Koreans
are not Christians. But now we know what it means. We've had one continuous
Christmas for the past five months."