The Korean War Veterans Memorial was first authorized by United States Congress in October of 1986. The memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington DC. The Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board oversaw both the design and the construction of the site along with the American Battle Monuments Commission.
A competition was held in 1989 for the design of the memorial. Originally, a team of architects were chosen from Pennsylvania State University. However as changes on the design became imminent, the team chose to withdraw. In the end a team of several designers was overseen by the architect firm, Cooper-Lecky and a groundbreaking ceremony took place in June of 1992.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is in the shape of a triangle, which intersects a circle. Within the triangle area stands a total of 19 stainless steel, life-size statues depicting a patrol squad. The Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy are all represented within the squad. Their reflection in the wall (which makes up the first side of the triangle) gives the illusion that a total of 38 men are standing, which correlates with the 38th Parallel in Korea. Each is dressed in full combat gear.
The second side of the triangle contains over 2,500 photographic images that have been sandblasted into the wall. The images were carefully chosen to properly represent the troops who fought via land, sea and air. The third wall on the triangle remains open and faces towards the Lincoln Memorial
The memorial also has a black granite wall that lines a 30-foot shallow pool known as “The Pool of Remembrance”. Here, the casualty statistics of the soldiers who fought in the Korean War are listed. The statistics list not only the total number who died, but the number of men wounded, captured and also those still missing.
An appropriate silver inlaid inscription on a granite wall states:
“Freedom Is Not Free”