Several new memorials have been added since the last time my wife and I were in Washington D.C. (1981), including the moving Vietnam Memorial. However, the new monument that captured our imagination during our recent D.C. visit was the Korean War Veterans Memorial–19 larger-than-life statues of soldiers on patrol.
There is symbolism in the 19 soldiers represented, for each of them are reflected in a black granite wall, creating a total of 38 soldiers. This number represents the 38th parallel–the political border between North and South Korea. Of the 19 soldiers, 14 are from the Army, 3 are Marines, 1 is from the Navy, and 1 is from the Air Force. What’s more, the soldiers represent various ethnic groups, for the military in the Korean War had become integrated. With eerie realism, the soldiers move across granite strips and through juniper, which symbolize the rough Korean landscape.
Most of our history of the Korean War comes from reruns of “MASH,” and it has often been called “the forgotten war.” The war was triggered when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. The United States contributed 88% of the 341,000 international soldiers that pushed back the North Korean invasion, and the final armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
Today, North Korean continues to stir trouble.
By Doug Peterson