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Visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial
“Freedom Is Not Free” at this innovative memorial on the National Mall.
What is the Korean War Veterans Memorial and where is it?
The Korean War Veterans Memorial resides on the National Mall, southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool. All of its components, including its walls, stainless steel statues and Pool of Remembrance, are dedicated to the U.S. Armed Forces that served and sacrificed during the Korean War. The memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, with rangers on duty to answer questions from 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Interpretive programs are provided throughout the day and upon request.
The most convenient way to reach the Korean War Veterans Memorial is public transportation. The DC Circulator’s National Mall route and Metrobus routes 32, 34 and 36 service the area. The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and Federal Triangle, on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines (Foggy Bottom is also an option).
What will I see?
The Korean War Veterans Memorial consists of multiple structures that honor those who sacrificed during the three-year conflict that was the Korean War. The memorial’s mural wall measures 164 feet long and eight inches thick, and from a bird’s eye view, the wall appears as an isosceles triangle, with the tip intersecting a circle over the Pool of Remembrance.
Images of troops moving by sea, land and air are sandblasted onto the surface of the wall, while a squadron of 19 stainless steel figures, including members from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, are situated in the center of the memorial space. When the 1,000-pound statues are reflected on the granite wall, there appears to be 38 soldiers, which represents the 38th parallel, the dividing line of North and South Korea during the conflict.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial also features a United Nations wall, which lists all 22 members of the U.N. that contributed to the war efforts, as well as a granite wall that states “Freedom Is Not Free.” This sentiment reflects the struggle and sacrifice of American soldiers in securing our freedoms when fighting overseas.
A visit to the memorial is not complete without a look at the Pool of Remembrance, which has inscriptions that list the number of soldiers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as prisoners during the Korean War. The shallow pool, which is 30 feet in diameter, is surrounded by trees positioned so that the sun beautifully reflects off of the water.
Honor a veteran
On any given visit, you may encounter former servicemen at the memorial. In fact, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing vets, often elderly, to DC to visit the memorials which honor their service to the nation. These visits are often filled with emotions and help provide closure for veterans by reinforcing the importance of their service and sacrifice.
Once you’re done exploring this memorial, take a short walk to see others nearby, including the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.