The Korean War Veterans Memorial was authorized by Public Law 99-572 on Oct. 28, 1986 "…to honor members of the United
States Armed Forces who served in the Korean War, particularly those who were killed in action, are still missing inaction,
or were held as prisoners of war." The law established an advisory board of 12 veterans appointed by the president to coordinate
all aspects of the memorial’s construction. The site is located adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial directly across the
reflecting pool from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The American Battle Monuments Commission managed the project and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided assistance.
The architect of record is Cooper Lecky Architects. President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young Sam dedicated
the memorial on July 27, 1995. Since the dedication several modifications have been incorporated: a kiosk to provide shelter
for National Park Service personnel and a computer system with data housing the "Honor Role," which was accessible to the
public. Correcting accessibility issues and replacement of the lighting in the statuary and along the mural wall with a state-of-the-art
fiber optic system were required. Reconstruction of the pool and tree grove by the National Park Service and Corps of Engineers
to improve tree maintenance and operate the reflecting pool was completed in July 1999. The overall cost for the design and
construction of the memorial and kiosk was $16.5 million.
There are 19 statues sculpted by Frank Gaylord of Barre, Vt., and cast by Tallix Foundries of Beacon, N.Y. They are approximately
7’3" tall, heroic scale and consist of 14 Army, 3 Marines, 1 Navy, 1 Air Force. They represent an ethnic cross section
of America with 12 Caucasian, 3 African American, 2 Hispanic, 1 Oriental, 1 Indian (Native American).
The juniper bushes are meant to be symbolic of the rough terrain encountered in Korea, and the granite stripes of the obstacles
overcome in war. The Marines in column have the helmet chin straps fastened and helmet covers. Three of the Army statues are
wearing paratrooper boots and all equipment is authentic from the Korean War era (when the war started most of the equipment
was WWII issue).
Three of the statues are in the woods, so if you are at the flagpole looking through the troops, you can't tell how many
there are, and could be legions emerging from the woods. The statues are made of stainless steel, a reflective material that
when seen in bright sunlight causes the figures to come to life. The blowing ponchos give motion to the column, so you can
feel them walking up the hill with the cold winter wind at their backs, talking to one another. At nighttime the fronts of
the statues are illuminated with a special white light; the finer details of the sculpture are clearly seen and the ghosts
The Mural Wall was designed by Louis Nelson of New York, N.Y., and fabricated by Cold Spring Granite Company, Cold Spring,
Min. The wall consists of 41 panels extending 164 feet. Over 15,000 photographs of the Korean War were obtained from the National
Archives to create the mural. The photographs were enhanced by computer to develop a uniform lighting effect and size, and
to create a mural with over 2,400 images. The mural depicts Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel
and their equipment. The etchings are arranged to give a wavy appearance in harmony with the layout of the statues. The reflective
quality of the Academy Black Granite creates the image of a total 38 statues, symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months
of the war. When viewed from afar, it also creates the appearance of the mountain ranges of Korea. It is organized by service
as shown below:
Upon close inspection, you will see that all of the images look straight out from the wall over the platoon of statues; the
soldiers they were there to support.
Included are etchings of the U.S. Army supporting artillery, rocket launchers, 240mm self-propelled
guns, antiaircraft artillery, projectiles, armored vehicles, tank crewmen, Patton Tanks, M.A.S.H. units, rescue helicopters,
surgeons, nurses, ambulances, blood transfusions, stretcher bearers, chaplains representing all denominations, mine clearing,
bridge building, road and airfield construction, supply centers, ammunition and fuel dumps, placing communication lines, switchboards
and radio communications.
Etchings show U.S. Air Force air-ground controllers, AT-6's, F-80's, F-86's, P-51's, C-47's, C-97's pilots, crewmen bombs,
air evacuation, paratroopers, airborne assaults and aerial re-supply.
Also shown are U.S. Navy air evacuation, hospital ships, iron lung, air landing officer, Corsair pilots, submarines, Seabees,
landing forces, ships: APA's, AKA's, LC1's, LCVP's.
Also shown are POW handing, traffic control, military police, Red Cross, canine corps, KATUSA's (Koreans attached to the U.S.
Army), photographers, reporters and a shrine.Hibiscus Plantings:
To the south of the Memorial are three beds of Rose of Sharon hibiscus plants. This plant is the national flower of South
Korea.Pool of Remembrance:
Honoring the dead, the missing the POW's and the wounded from the U.S. and UN Forces...statistics engraved in stone...walk
out into the pool area on a peninsula symbolic of Republic of Korea, which is a peninsula.
Twenty-two nations responded to the UN call to defend freedom and repel the communist aggression...names of all nations
are engraved on the curb stone along the north entrance. Seventeen nations provided combat units, five provided medical support.Honor
Roll: The Honor Roll contains all verifiable names of those on active duty who were killed in action, still listed as missing
in action, and captured as prisoners of war in the Korean War (these names come from the National Archives, DoD and relatives).
Those who died elsewhere in the in service to their country in the cause of freedom during the Korean War, June 25, 1950 to
July 27, 1953, will also be included if family and friends so request and have verifiable data.
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean offensive started from four locations across the 38th parallel into South Korea. In
41 days the South Korean and American forces would be driven back into the Pusan perimeter, just a few miles from the southern
shore of the tip of South Korea. In August reinforcements from the Eighth Army and Marine Corps would arrive.
By the end of September the Eighth Army would break out of the Pusan perimeter while Infantry and Marine Corps landed at
Inchon and liberated Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Three months later Marines, forward details from the Army and other British, French, Turkish, South Korean and other United
Nations forces would stand at the Yalu River, the border between Korea and China, thinking the war was nearly over.
Soon after reaching the border, a force of 300,000 Chinese troops who had moved into North Korea during the UN advance and
concealed themselves in the mountainous terrain, attacked the UN forces from the rear. The UN forces would soon be fighting
their way back to the coast to be taken off by the Navy or to secure positions in the south. The next 2½ years of the conflict
would become trench warfare or battles for hilltops fought back and forth across the 38th parallel.
During the war several decisions were made that would set the course of World history. Prior to the conflict America was
disarming from World War II, ignoring the communist threat. After the North Korean invasion, President Truman set the doctrine
that no country would fall to communism. It marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and established our industrial
base for the next 50 years. Message: "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE"...Takes legions of men and women who fight a war against
oppression...a memorial of faces, complimenting the memorial of names across the reflecting pool...
"OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY
THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET"