66th Memorial Service for Homer B. Hulbert

Dr. Hope E. May (CKS Advisory Board member) addressing at the 66th Memorial Service for Homer B. Hulbert, organized by the Hulbert Memorial Society (Chairman: Dong Jin Kim - 2014 GKA Awardee) on August 12, 2015

<Homer B. Hulbert , True Patriot for the International Peace and Justice>

"As an American, I of course am proud of Hulbert’s heroic actions. But one must go beyond national pride to fully appreciate the cosmopolitan dimensions of Hulbert’s story. Let me highlight three important lessons that Hulbert’s story teaches us about International Peace and Justice. The first is a simple one about the importance of honoring one’s agreements. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), widely regarded as the father of international law, noted that respecting one’s agreements – expressed in latin as Pacta Sunt Servanda – is absolutely foundational. The breaking of a promise is a basic, fundamental wrong and violations of international law are broken promises that impact entire peoples. Thus, International Peace and Justice demand a deep respect for agreements, obligations and promises. Hulbert of course lived by this and did a great service when he educated the United States – its public offcials and its people - that it was failing to respect Article 1 of the 1882 US/Korea Treaty which obliges the United States to “render assistance and protection” if another country deals “unjustly or oppressively” with Korea.

Hulbert’s activism in educating the public about his own country’s failure to honor its promise, brings us to the second important lesson. This lesson concerns the value of ‘True Patriotism’ – a character trait that enables one to see that one’s own country is engaged in wrongdoing and to courageously speak out against this wrong. An individual who actualizes these traits is a “True Patriot” working on behalf of humanitarian and cosmopolitan values. Hulbert was one such example. He not only knew enough about international law to see that his own country was in the wrong, but also “exposed and criticized” his own country for failing to respect its international legal obligations to come to Korea’s aid. Hulbert lived by one of the cosmopolitan credos of the time: “Above all nations is humanity.”

The third and final lesson that Hulbert’s story teaches connects to the very fact of our being here, remembering Hulbert. This third lesson concerns the value of remembrance and the danger of forgetfulness. The project of International Peace & Justice cannot proceed if a country forgets its obligations to another. Nor can it proceed if it forgets stories of True Patriots such as Hulbert. When we fail to bring Hulbert’s spirit to life through commemorative acts such as this, we contribute to forgetfulness and oblivion – the very forces against which Hulbert and others so valiantly fought. Your presence here demonstrates your interest in Hulbert’s spirit, his life and legacy. Continue to give life to this spirit and be a helper to the project of International Peace and Justice, still very much in its infancy."

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