The people who served during one of the saddest events in human history are remembered in a famous Washington D.C. landmark.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
1. The Memorial is located in West Potomac Park
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located on Independence Avenue in Washington D.C. It can be found in the southwestern corner of the National Mall, a landscaped park home to various memorials and monuments.
Other famous landmarks nearby are the Lincoln Memorial to the northeast and the reflecting pool just to the north. The memorial is part of the West Potomac Park which also houses the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
2. The monument was commissioned in the 1980s
The memorial was constructed in remembrance of the people who served in the Korean War. This tragic event started 5 years after World War II was finished in 1945 on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The war ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice.
The construction of the memorial was confirmed by the U.S. Congress on April 20, 1986. After this, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission sought to find a suiting design to commemorate the thousands of people who served during the war.
3. The original design was created by 4 architects from Penn State
One of the most interesting Korean War memorial facts is that the original design competition that was held was won by 4 architects who were studying at Pennsylvania State University.
Even though this team decided to drop out of the competition after the advisory board decided that the plan had to be altered significantly before it could be passed, many elements of this original design were used in the memorial we see today!
The architectural firm overseeing the work was “Cooper-Lecky Architects” and the most significant element that was kept are the statues of soldiers in the central area of the memorial.
4. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 1992
It took over 6 years before the actual groundbreaking ceremony of the memorial was conducted by none other than President George H. W. Bush.
This event happened on June 14, 1992. This particular day is known as Flag Day, the day commemorating the adoption of the American flag. Construction of the memorial started shortly afterward.
5. The memorial was dedicated on a special day
If the groundbreaking ceremony was held on a special day, then the day that the memorial was dedicated was even more significant. After a construction period of over 3 years, the Korean Veterans War memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
This event was conducted by both the American President at the time Bill Clinton, and his colleague, the South Korean President Kim Young Sam.
6. The monument is dominated by a 164-feet-long Mural Wall
The main feature of the memorial is a long Mural Wall with a length of 164 feet (50 meters). This wall was constructed with black granite that was imported from the other side of the country in California and is about 8 inches (20 centimeters) thick.
On this “Academy Black granite” wall, 2,500 archival photographs were sandblasted onto it which depicts scenes from the Korean War.
7. Another granite wall references a famous quote
A secondary wall is referred to as the United Nations Wall, and on it, you can find the list of the 22 members of the United Nations who fought together against North Korea, who was in return supported by China and Russia.
A smaller wall mentions the quote “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE,” a saying often used in the United States to convey gratitude towards the military for defending personal freedom.
8. The 19 huge statues represent a platoon on patrol
One of the most amazing Korean War Veterans Memorial facts is that the entire monument is centered around a group of 19 larger-than-life statues representing a platoon (a military unit) on patrol.
These statues, which stand between 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 meters) and 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 meters) tall and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds (500 kilos) each, represent various members of the military, including:
- 14 members of the U.S. Army
- 3 members of the Marine Corps
- 1 Navy Corpsman
- 1 Air Force Forward Air Observer
9. The sculptor made a lot of money when $17 million worth of stamps were sold
The 19 stainless steel sculptures were created by American sculptor Frank Gaylord. One of the most remarkable Korean War Veterans Memorial facts is that Gaylord managed to sue the postal service because they used an image of the sculptures to sell a stamp.
This particular stamp ended up selling $17 million USD worth of copies. Gaylord claimed he was entitled to 10% of the proceeds because he didn’t sign away his intellectual property rights.
The sculptor appealed the original award of $5,000 and the US Court of Federal Claims eventually awarded Gaylord $684,844.94 in compensation, not too shabby!
10. Details of the war are inscribed near the Pool of Remembrance
Another prominent feature of the memorial is a relatively small and shallow pool with a diameter of 30 feet (9 meters), referred to as the “Pool of Remembrance.” It’s called this way because the grim statistics of the war are engraved into granite blocks on the east side of the pool.
The stats refer to both the military of the United States as the military of all other countries of the United Nations combined:
- Dead — United States: 36,574 – United Nations: 628,833.
- Wounded — United States: 103,284 – United Nations: 1,064,453.
- Captured — United States: 7,140 – United Nations: 92,970.
- Missing — United States: 8,177 – United Nations: 470,267.
A plaque mentioning the quote below can be found here too:
Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.
11. The national flower of South Korea is featured in the Memorial
The area of the pool is surrounded by benches and linden trees in the form of a circle to ensure the sun can be reflected in the Pool of Remembrance.
One of the most fascinating Korean War Veterans Memorial facts is that the southern edge of the monument is decorated with the Rose of Sharon hibiscus plant, the national flower of South Korea
12. A Korean company is an important sponsor of the Korean War Memorial Foundation
The moment that the Memorial was dedicated, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The management is in the hands of the National Park Service, an agency of the Federal Government of the United States.
The independent Korean War Memorial Foundation also helps out with the maintenance of the Memorial, and sometimes gets help from renowned South Korean companies.
In 2015, Samsung Electronics donated $1 million USD to the foundation, and this money was integrally used for maintenance. This makes the Korean War Veterans Memorial one of the most amazing monuments in Washington D.C.!