Monday, May 26, 2014

Korean War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans Memorials (Remembering on Memorial Day)

It's Memorial Day.  It's also the first weekend I've been home in a month.  I've been catching up on chores and relaxing (let's face it there is a lot more relaxing going on than chore doing)!

I thought in honor of Memorial Day, the day we remember our members of the armed forces who have died while serving, I would share photos from the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from my visit to DC in April.  I think it is incredible that each war memorial is so unique and special.  It is really special to see them in person.

Korean War Veterans Memorial
This was my first time seeing the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  They broke ground for this memorial in 1992 but it wasn't completed and dedicated until 1995.  This memorial has several different parts to it and the attention to detail is incredible.  This memorial honors all Americans who served in Korea (including my grandfather).

Part of the memorial is a 164 foot granite wall where there are more than 2,500 photographic, archival images representing the troops who fought in the war.
Another part of the memorial is 19 stainless steel statues standing over 7 feet tall and weighing close to 1000 pounds each. The figures represent a squad on patrol with each branch of the armed forces included.  They are dressed in full combat gear and the bushes represent the rugged terrain of Korea. 

The Pool of Remembrance includes inscriptions listing number wounded, captured, missing and dead.  In the US alone there were over 54,000 killed in this war and over 100,000 wounded.  Mind blowing.

"FREEDOM IS NOT FREE" Such a simple statement yet so powerful.  Sometimes I think we all forget how fortunate we are to have the freedoms we have. 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The United States fought in the Vietnam War from December 1956 until the fall of Saigon in April 1975.  That is a long time.  This memorial also honors all who served during the war (again including my grandfather) but only lists the names of those who died.  There were 58,286 killed in action, missing in action or killed in captivity.

I think the thing that stands out the most to me about this memorial (besides what seems like a never ending list of names) are the personal tokens left at the wall.  There are letters, photos, flowers and gifts left by loved ones and it is hard not to become teary eyed while reading some of the notes.

Do you know how the memorial design was chosen?  I found this very interesting!  A contest was created to choose the design of this memorial.  The winner would receive $50,000.  In 1981 there were 1,421 designs submitted which was then narrowed down to 232 then 39 and then the final one was chosen.  Each design was identified with a number to preserve the anonymity of the designers.  The design chosen was by female, American architect Maya Lin.  The memorial was dedicated in 1982.

This memorial is really so simple yet so incredible all at the same time.  There is something so powerful when standing in front of all of those names.  There are catalogs you can use to find a name on the wall.

There are over 3 million visitors come to see the memorial each year.  Incredible! 

Today, Memorial Day, I can't help but think about all of the men and women who have died while fighting for my freedom.  I am so thankful for their service and thankful that we have memorials to honor and remember them.  If you haven't been to DC to see these memorials I highly recommend you visit.  They are pretty special.

(P.S. I spent close to 2 hours working on this post only to have it deleted.  I'm not sure what happened but I lost it all.  I had to rewrite the entire thing and I know it is not as "good" as my first draft.  Very frustrating.  I seriously wanted to cry when I realized what had happened.  Hopefully you still learned something from reading it even though it is much less detailed than my original post)!