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Korean War Veterans Memorial 16 - 2012-09-06

Looking southwest at statues that are part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on September 6, 2012.


Authorized by Congress in 1986, the memorial was originally designed in 1989 by Don Leon, John Paul Lucas, Veronica Burns Lucas, and Eliza Pennypacker Oberholtzer from Penn State University. This design was a semi-circle about 1,250 feet wide on the long edge. The southern curve was formed by a dense row of tall boxwood trees. The semi-circule was bifurcated along its north-south axis. A large V-shaped ramp (with the point in the east) led slightly upward. On either side was a downward-sloping, rocky poll over which a thin film of water flowed. A red line of granite moved up the center of the V. On either side of the "red line" were 38 soldiers, done in a symbolist style. As a visitor reached the apex of the V, they were about six feet in the air. A ramp down descended into the other half of the semi-circle. In the middle of the circle was a white granite block, into which an American flag was set. Turning to look backward up the ramp, the visitor would see that the six-foot-high wall was adorned with images and text documenting the various battles, nations, and acts of valor that occurred during the Korean War. The western half of the long edge was densely packed with bushes and deciduous trees. The eastern long edge was adorned with a "memorial grove" of taller, less densely packed trees among which one was invited to wander and sit and contemplate.


This design was subsequently altered by Cooper-Lecky Architects in 1991, causing the original design team to withdraw. (An unsuccessful lawsuit occurred.) The number of statues was halved due to cost, the memorial radically redesigned, and the documentary wall relocated.


Ground was broken on June 14, 1992, and the memorial dedicated on July 27, 1995 (the 42nd anniversary of the Korean War armistice).


Frank Gaylord designed the realistic statues, each of which is about one-sixth larger than life. (Reflected in the black granite wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers.) Louis Nelson designed the documentary wall, which contains photographic images sandblasted into the polished granite.


The soliders form a loose triangle with its apex pointed at a small pool, in the center of which is the U.S. flag. The pool is surrounded by a double line of trees (the "memorial grove"). To the south of the trees, a second curving wall of granite (the "United Nations wall"), about three feet high, lists the 22 members of the United Nations that contributed troops or medical support to the Korean War. The foot-high wall enclosing the pool lists statistics about the war, while a nearby plaque contains a memorial inscription. Yet another granite wall to the west of the trees bears the message "Freedom Is Not Free."

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Taken on September 6, 2012