Friday, March 5, 2021

The Forgotten War and the Coldest – Korea




While visiting the Korean Memorial in Washington, D.C. last spring, I felt the tragedy of this specific war seep into my bones as no other memorial had. Dedicated on July 27, 1995, the memorial drew many visitors who were noticeably subdued as they looked at the anguish in the soldiers’ faces and contemplated the murderously frigid weather that they fought in. My first vision of the 19 stainless steel statues is still etched in my mind; the pain, desperation and courage in such adversity were mind-boggling.

The seven-foot statues of the soldiers appear to be walking through a rice paddy (live juniper bushes) wearing heavy ponchos that appear to be moving in the cold wind of Korea. The statues were sculpted by Frank Galord (Vermont).

Near the marching troops is a stunning mural wall that contains etchings on black granite reproduced from actual photographs of the Korean War. The reflection of the 19 statues multiplies their number to 38, which seems superimposed over the etchings. The mural wall was designed by Louis Nelson (New York). The 38 soldiers reflected are symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months of the war.



Ill prepared with clothing and artillery for such rugged weather and terrain, our troops were outnumbered and out maneuvered by the opposition. Mountains reaching seven thousand feet and temperatures often twenty degrees below zero and “cold that stuck to the bone,” was how Matthew B. Ridgeway described it. Ridgeway was the US Military officer that replaced Douglas MacArthur.



The Korean War lasted three years; June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.

Thirty-seven thousand Americans died in the conflict and 103,000 were wounded during this period; 5.8 million Americans served in the armed services during the Korean War.

The purpose of the war? To stop the encroachment of communism into South Korea. The purpose of the Korean War Memorial and the other memorials? To honor the service, bravery and commitment of our troops, wherever and whenever they served. They will not be forgotten.

(References include “The Coldest War” by David Halberstam and “American Military History,” edited by John Whiteclay Chambers II.)

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!



Statues of the troops at the Korean War Photo by Jory Westberry

Statues of the troops at the Korean War Photo by Jory Westberry

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