Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting, the Korean War Veterans Memorial honors the 1.5 million American men and women who served in what has been called “a border conflict” and “a police action,” but to those in uniform was a pitiless war waged for three long years.
Korea’s bad weather and harsh conditions made combat particularly tough. The “Forgotten War” was never forgotten by those who fought from 1950 to 1953 in what many people considered a proxy battle of the Cold War.
Visitors to the memorial first see a 19-man patrol of stainless-steel statues fanning out in a triangle. The statues, by Frank Gaylord, depict a symbolic squad representing men from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The men come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (in 1948, President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981 began the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces and the civil service); each wears a poncho as protection against Korea’s harsh winter weather.
A black granite wall on the south side reflects the images of the patrol’s statues along with the etched faces of unidentified service members copied from more than 2,000 photographs. On the opposite side, the United Nations Wall records the countries that provided troops, medical support, and/or supplies to South Korea during the conflict. The V shape of the memorial leads to the circular Pool of Remembrance, where the numbers of those killed, wounded, and missing in action are etched in stone.
by Katie Calvert