One of the more unusual and more interesting monuments in Washington DC is the Korean War Memorial. The Memorial is situated on the National Mall, close to the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool.
The Korean War started in 1950 with the North Korean Invasion of South Korea. North Korea was supported by China and the USSR; the United States lead a 21-nation United Nations force to help South Korea. The war lasted for three years and ended in a tense stalemate which lingers to this day. Hopefully things are finally moving towards a more peaceful Korean peninsula.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of 5.8 million Americans who served during the three-years of the Korean War. The United States suffered significant losses in the conflict, including 36,574 dead, 103,284 wounded in action, and 8,177 Missing in Action.
Construction on the Memorial began in 1993 and it was completed and dedicated in 1995. The Memorial is managed by the National Park Service.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial consists of four parts.
1) The Statues:
The most obvious part of the monument are 19 stainless steel statues representing a platoon on patrol. They are standing in patches of juniper bushes, separated by bands of polished granite, symbolizing the rice paddies of Korea. The statues each are more than 7 feet tall and weigh more than 1000 pounds. To me they looked like ghosts on patrol, although I’m not sure if that was the desired effect.
2) The Mural Wall:
The Mural Wall was fascinating to study. The wall consists of 41 polished granite panels extending 164 feet, illustrated with etchings of more than 2,400 photographs of the Korean War. Beyond the photos etched into the wall, the reflections of the soldier statues on the wall’s glossy surface further enhanced my impression of ghosts. It was a bit eerie.
3) The Pool or Remembrance:
The Memorial has a reflective pool (30 ft wide), lined by black granite. The Pool is encircled by a walkway along which benches are located. Inscriptions list the numbers killed, wounded and MIA. I visited in early December and the pool had been drained, so I didn’t bother photographing it. But here’s a photo from Wikimedia that shows the pool in all its summer-time splendor. A further granite wall bears the simple message: “Freedom Is Not Free.”
4) The United Nations Wall:
To the north of the Mural Wall is a walkway on which are engraved markers for each of the 22 Allied nations that contributed troops to the UN’s response to the Korean War.
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