This memorial to the 1.5 million United States men and women who served in the Korean War (1950–53) highlights the high cost of freedom. Nearly 37,000 Americans were killed on the Korean peninsula, 8,000 were missing in action, and more than 103,000 were wounded. The privately funded memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995, on the 42nd anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Compare this memorial to the more intimate Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the grandiose World
War II Memorial.
In the Field of Service, 19 oversize stainless-steel soldiers toil through a rugged triangular terrain toward an American flag; look beneath the helmets to see their weary faces. The reflection in the polished black granite wall to their right doubles their number to 38, symbolic of the 38th parallel, the latitude established as the border between North and South Korea in 1953, as well as the 38 months of the war.
Unlike many memorials, this one contains few words, but what's here is poignant. The 164-foot-long granite wall etched with the faces of 2,400 unnamed servicemen and servicewomen says simply, "Freedom is not free." The plaque at the base of the flagpole reads, "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." The only other words are the names of 22 countries that volunteered forces or medical support, including Great Britain, France, Greece, and Turkey.
The adjacent circular Pool of Remembrance honors all who were killed, captured, wounded, or missing in action; it's a quiet spot for contemplation.
Allow about 10 or 15 minutes at this memorial.
A sign at the entrance to the memorial indicates the time of the next park ranger-led interpretive talk.
You can get service information on the soldiers who died in the Korean War from the touch-screen computer at the memorial information booth. Further information about veterans and casualties is available at [w]www.koreanwar.org.
It may be tempting for kids to trek through the field with the statues, but it's not allowed. They can strike a pose next to the wall and see their reflection added to those of the 19 soldiers.
Visit the shop in the nearby Lincoln Memorial for books and souvenirs relating to the Korean War.