Korean War Memorial

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Washington DC, Korean War Memorial at night - 2009

 

A Place for Reflection

Viewed from above, the memorial is a circle interesected by a triangle. Visitors approaching the memorial come first to the triangular Field of Service. Here, a group of 19 stainless-steel statues, created by World War II veteran Frank Gaylord, depicts a squad on patrol and evokes the experience of American ground troops in Korea. Strips of granite and scrubby juniper bushes suggest the rugged Korean terrain, while windblown ponchos recall the harsh weather. This symbolic patrol brings together members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy; the men portrayed are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

A granite curb on the north side of the statues lists the 22 countries of the United Nations that sent troops or gave medical support in defense of South Korea. On the south side is a black granite wall. Its polished surface mirrors the statues, intermingling the reflected images with the faces etched into the granite. The etched mural is based on actual photographs of unidentified American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The faces represent all those who provided support for the ground troops. Together these images reflect the determination of U.S. forces and the countless ways in which Americans answered their country’s call to duty.

The adjacent Pool of Remembrance, encircled by a grove of trees, provides a quiet setting. Numbers of those killed, wounded, missing in action, and held prisoner-of-war are etched in stone nearby. Opposite this counting of the war’s toll another granite wall bears a message inlaid in silver:
Freedom Is Not Free.

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