The Korean War lasted a mere three years, however, it had a staggering effect on the United States. In fact, 5.8 million Americans served in the armed forces during this time, sacrificing their well being for the good of the nation. What’s more, this conflict left more than 103,000 of our finest wounded.
Some paid the ultimate price. Those dying in hostile action during the Korean War totaled 36,574. Of these, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea.
In order to commemorate these brave soldiers, in 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated. Located on the National Mall, just southeast of the Lincoln Memorial, it consists of two parts, the first of which is a group 19 stainless steel statues, from all four branches of the military. Representing an ethnic cross section of America, each soldier is adorned with ponchos which cover their weapons and equipment.
The statues are planted in juniper bushes in a formation similar to what would have been seen in the rice paddies in Korea.
To the left of the statues, is a 164 foot granite mural wall containing more than 2,400 photos of the Korean War. These photos, borrowed from the National Archives, were enhanced via computer to provide uniformity in both size and lighting.
We don’t have a good photo of the wall, but it was a beautiful rendering.
The granite wall is, of course reflective, and the 1,000 pound statues are positioned in a way that a mirror images of them can be seen, making it appear as if thirty eight soldiers are present. This represents the thirty eighth parallel, which is the dividing line of North and South Korea during the conflict.
The National Mall is home to many memorials. It can actually get a bit overwhelming. The best course of action is to allot plenty of time to appreciate each one!