GRACE RUE MEMORIAL SERVICE
Loma Linda, California, 15 August 2009
REMARKS BY GEORGE F. DRAKE
My dear friends = It is now fifty-seven years since I first met Grace Rue. It was a November day in 1952. I was the driver of one of the trucks moving the children from
our company orphanage to join the children housed in the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital Orphanage located about ten miles to the east of Seoul with miles of rice
paddies on both sides of the road between the devastated city and the SDA hospital and orphanage compound.
Our little orphanage, the Manassas Manor Orphanage, housed 50 children at the time of the move but we GIs found that we could not give the orphanage the supervision
it needed and felt the children were being neglected. When Grace Rue agreed to add our children to the hundreds that she already had she made it clear that we had to
keep on supporting them as the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital organization did not have the income to add 50 more children to their list of responsibilities without our
Almost two thirds of the tykes we brought to the SDA orphanage that day had to be hospitalized and treated for various medical problems before they could be released
to join the other children in the orphanage. The fellows in my outfit, the 326th Communications Reconnaissance Company as well as fellows from the 501st.
Communications Reconnaissance Battalion located in Seoul and, I am sure, many other military units regularly sent support to the SDA orphanage to help Mrs. Rue and
Irene Robson in their labor with the children. By the time I left Korea a bit over a year later our little company of about 200 men had donated over $4,000 and many tons
of material aid to the orphanage.
What Grace was doing was certainly a miracle at a time when every grain of rice had to be carefully allocated, when material supplies such as diapers or medical supplies
were unavailable or extremely limited, when building material was not to be found for expanding the housing and cooking facilities, when children had to be fed in shifts
since there were not enough plates or eating utensils much less benches or tables to seat and feed all at one time. But Grace never turned a child away. They were all
Godâ€™s Children and therefore they were hers also.
What Grace was doing needs to be placed into the context of the larger scene and the impact the war had on the children of Korea. It is estimated that upwards of
500,000 children died in the three years of that war in both North and South Korea. When I got there it was estimated that 100,000 children wandered the streets and
by-ways of Korea or were without parental support of which less than half were housed in over 400 orphanages throughout the war torn land. In March of 1954 a
Korean government report stated that 54,000 children were housed in orphanages receiving a governmental rice ration, of which they estimated about 200 were mixed
blood children. An American missionary representing the Christian Childrenâ€™s Fund who had visited about 100 orphanages to select ones for support by their
organization estimated that perhaps upwards of one thousand of the children were mixed blood. That was still less than two percent of the total orphans then housed in
Grace did not care about the blood lines of the child. She took them all in and gave them all the same treatment but she was a realist and knew that orphans were at the
bottom of the social hierarchy in Confucian Korea even if they had two Korean parents and that they would forever be subject to prejudice if they remained in Korea.
So she, along with the Holt Foundation and many other orphanages, engaged in the process of sending many of their children out of country for adoption. In the ensuing
years Koreans have shipped out of their country over 200,000 children. On one occasion Grace told me that she processed over 1,000 children from the SDA
orphanage for overseas adoption. A number of those children are in this room today and are here to pay homage to the incredible woman who had love for each and
every child she came in contact with and who did her best to ensure that each and every one of them learn a trade if they were old enough and to learn discipline and a
love of basic Christian values that would help them survive where ever they ended up in this troubled world.
Grace Rue had the courage, the compassion and the strength to face up to the task of helping, as best she could, the needs of the war child of Korea. And we
servicemen and women in the UN Forces â€“ Korea needed her and others like her. One had to teach a young American to aim a gun at another human being and shoot
to kill but you did not need to teach them to feed a hungry child, find shelter for the homeless child, take the injured child for medical help or give solace to the crying
child. That came with being American. We servicemen and women who went to Korea to fight in that conflict took with us our basic human values of respect and love
for all children.
My research suggests that we American servicemen and women saved the lives of over 10,000 children. We built or repaired hundreds of orphanages. We donated
over two million dollars for orphanage support and brought in from parents, friends, neighbors and classmates â€˜back homeâ€™ thousands upon thousands, not of
packages of material aid, but TONS of packages of material aid. We needed people like Grace Rue whom we could trust with â€œourâ€� children, who would not
steal the blankets we donated and sell them on the black market the next day. It was a symbiotic relationship. We needed her and she depended on our support. For
many years the 326th CRC served as the military postal address for persons in the US who wanted to send packages of goods to the SDA orphanage. That way the
donors only paid postage to San Francisco and not the international postal rate to Korea.
I kept in contact with Grace over the years and on one occasion she told me that she was going to travel around the United States to visit many of her â€œchildren.â€� I
prepared for her a collection of photographs I had taken of the Manassas Manor orphanage and of the SDA orphanage that she could take with her and show the
children, now parents and perhaps grandparents themselves, what life was like back then. A month or so later I got the following letter: