The Korean War Veterans Memorial -
My personal favorite war memorial in Washington D.C. (excluding Arlington)...A truly powerful memorial. The statues are mesmerizing and the Reflecting Wall is amazing, but one simple floor stone caught my attention more than anything else. It says it all about the war - it says it all about what our men and women gave:
- Dedicated: July 27, 1995.
- Sculptor of Statue(s): Frank Gaylord.
- Walls: 164 feet long, 8 inches thick; more than 100 tons of highly polished
granite; more than 2500 photographic, archival images representing the land,
sea and air troops that supported those who fought in the war sandblasted onto
wall; "Academy Black" granite from California.
- Statues: 19 stainless steel statues; 7'3"-7'6" tall; each one
nearly 1000 pounds; 15 Army, 2 Marines, 1 Navy Medic, 1 Air Force Observer;
fiber optic lighting.
- Pool of Remembrance: 30 feet in diameter; black granite from Canada.
- 223 piles driven into bedrock, 30-60 feet deep, supporting the statues and
- United Nations Wall: raised granite curb lists the 22 nations that
contributed to this first U.N. effort.
- Land area: 2.2 acres.
Ceremony - By Dick Cheney
"Americans already familiar
with the heroism of World War II and Vietnam are now learning the story of
Korea, of what was gained, and what was lost, and of the decisions made so long
ago that have a continuing significance to this day.
"When the war began in the summer of 1950, our military had been through
years of demobilization and was scarcely prepared for what lay ahead. The South
Korean units were even worse off. The first units on our side in the battle
area went in without tanks and were severely outgunned. General Ridgway said it
was as if a few troops of Boy Scouts with hand weapons had tried to stop a
German Panzer column. Another soldier remembers Korea as 'a war of fists
and rifle butts.' Yet our troops fought valiantly. In early battles,
American and South Korean combat forces were often outnumbered, sometimes by as
much as 20 to one. It was, said President Truman, one of the most heroic
rearguard actions on record.
"Throughout the conflict, American and South Korean forces found themselves
in some of the most difficult conditions any army could face. Their weapons
rusted in the monsoons of summer, and froze solid during the coldest Korean
winter in a hundred years. Many of our men who fell into enemy hands were
treated with cold-blooded cruelty. By the time the fighting ceased and the
armistice was signed, 131 Americans had earned the Medal of Honor, and of
those, 94 died while earning it.
"In the space of just 37 months, the United States of America lost a total
of more than 36,000 of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. More than
90,000 others returned home wounded. And even today, 53 years after the guns
went silent, some 8,000 of our men remain unaccounted for. These brave
Americans were last seen doing their duty. We know their names. We honor their
service. And this nation will persist in the effort to gain a full accounting
for every last one of them.
"The cause America stood for in Korea, joined by forces from many
countries, was noble and just. It was the cause of human freedom. It was a
battle to determine, as General Ridgway put it, 'Whether the rule of men
who shoot their prisoners, enslave their citizens, and deride the dignity of
man shall displace the rule of those to whom the individual and his individual
rights are sacred.'
"All of us look to the day
when the light of freedom and progress covers all of Korea, and stability on
the peninsula rests on a foundation of peaceful reconciliation. Until then,
stability and peace will be maintained by our great military alliance. Tens of
thousands of American troops proudly serve in Korea today. We will maintain our
presence there. America's commitment to peace in the region, and to the
security of our friends, is unbreakable. The United States and South Korea will
continue to stand together in defending civilization against global terror, and
building the peace that freedom brings.
"Our people stationed in South Korea today follow in the finest of
traditions, going back to the 1.8 million Americans who fought there during the
war, and the millions of others who have honored this country by their military
service. In these early years of the 21st century, the American people have
been inspired once again by the bravery and the selflessness of our armed
forces. Freedom is not free, and all of us are deep in the debt of the men and
women who go out and pay the price for our liberty.
"As President Eisenhower
said 53 years ago, Americans who fought in Korea 'proved once again that
only courage and sacrifice can keep freedom alive upon this Earth.' By
that courage and sacrifice, the United States and our allies held off the
aggressive expansion of communism, and helped make possible the freedom and the
great prosperity today enjoyed by some 48 million South Koreans. Decades after
he left the military, one of our veterans said this: 'I was glad to have
served my country, and I've never heard Korean veterans complain. In fact, if
we had to do it all over again, we would.'
"Ladies and gentlemen,
there could be no more eloquent testimony to the character of our country than
those words from an American who served in that war. And it is fitting that
every year, on the 27th of July, we honor them all and offer the respect of a