korean war monument

A long overdue tribute to honor each individual service member who gave their life during the 1950-1953 Korean War has finally been added to the Korean War monument here in Washington. In October of 2016, Congress enacted the “Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act” (Public Law 114–230) with the stipulation that related costs for its implementation would not be federally funded. Therefore, the project’s costs were paid for by private donations.

After undergoing several years work, the newly refurbished monument was dedicated this week at a public ceremony honoring all Korean War veterans along with their fallen comrades.

The reimagined monument now includes the Wall of Remembrances as provided for in the act honoring each of the 36,634 Americans and 7,174 Koreans (ROK) who died in combat by permanently engraving their names in granite for a war that has never officially ended.

The large almost completely circular granite “wall” is made of numerous individual panels at waist height that contextualize the magnitude of deaths that took place during the three years of brutal combat. Panel after panel of the closely engraved names impress upon the observer the horrific human toll of war. The massive number of listings are separated by service branch, followed by rank and then in alphabetical order, the name of each of those killed in the conflict. On closer observation, as the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial Foundation points out, the listing of deaths being divided by service branch demonstrates, “… how the War’s burden fell unevenly across the military.”

This now permanent level of personalization added to the original 1995 monument has given new life to the memory of loved ones for families of the fallen in an everlasting tribute to their memory.

The monument’s original 19 stainless-steel sculptures of combat soldiers ever on patrol now purposely march towards the Wall of Remembrance in a show of unification as comrades-in-arms in what has for far too long been referred to as America’s Forgotten War. While the names of those killed in combat are being honored it is important to remember that there are still 7,600 MIAs yet to be accounted for. Additionally, the wars toll also included an estimated one million North and South Korean civilian deaths along with 800,000 communist soldiers.

While the war may have faded in the minds of many, its impact on history continues today in a divided peninsula with the added threat of a nuclear confrontation between the “Hermit Kingdom” and the West.

(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.


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