Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Truce talks in the Korean War originally began in July of 1951, but were hopelessly bogged down by the Communists' refusal to allow prisoners the choice of whether or not to return to their homelands. Stalin's death in March, 1953, led to a change in attitude among Soviet leaders. On March 28 the Communists agreed to exchange sick and wounded prisoners, and truce talks resumed April 26 when they agreed to voluntary repatriation for prisoners. Forty-six years later, the two Koreas remain constantly vigilant and hostile toward each other. An excerpt from The Post of July 27, 1953:
PANMUNJOM, (Monday) July 27 (AP).-
United Nations Command and Communist senior truce delegates signed the long-awaited Korean armistice in a crisp 10-minute ceremony today, halting three years and one month of undeclared war ...
All shooting along the 155-mile battlefront was to stop 12 hours from the time of the signing at Panmunjom ...
Lieut. Gen. William K. Harrison, jr., signed for the U.N. Command. North Korean Gen. Nam II signed for the North Koreans and Chinese Communists.
The signing went like clockwork, in contrast with more than two years of bitter debate that led up to it.
When the representatives of the warring sides entered the building the 18 copies of the truce document were placed on an empty table in the middle of the one large room.
General Harrison signed in a businesslike manner, with Col. J.C. Murray, veteran U.N. Command liaison officer, handing him the drafts.
Generals Nam and Harrison signed at the same time, alternating the documents.
Each chief delegate used only one pen on each document.
Neither showed any emotion ...
No words were spoken between the chief delegates during the ceremony. They exchanged one long look after the signing, then Nam got up and left. Harrison then rose and walked out of the building.
A Communist newsman asked Harrison outside the signing hall, "Any comment?"
"You know I don't do that," Harrison replied.
Thus drew to a close the stalemated conflict which the United States and the United Nations entered as a "police action" against communist aggression.
Within three days to a week prisoners will begin to flow homeward.
The momentous announcement that the United Nations Command and the Communists had agreed to a cease-fire after two years, 17 days of negotiations was made in Tokyo last night by General Clark.
The armistice calls for troops of South Korea and 16 Allied nations, the Chinese Reds and the North Koreans to pull back about 1D miles from the front within 60 additional hours. This will leave a jagged 2-mile wide buffer zone across the 150-mile waist of Korea while a political conference considers the future of the battered Peninsula.