Postal Service to Issue Stamp Honoring Korean War Memorial, Armistice
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2003 A photograph of stainless steel statues of a patrol trudging through snow toward an objective is featured on the new commemorative postage stamp honoring the Korean War Veterans Memorial that's slated to be dedicated by the U.S. Postal Service on July 27.
The 37-cents stamp also honors the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended hostilities during the Korean War.
The stamp's official first day of issue ceremony will take place at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Washington's National Mall.
The statuary troop patrol consists of 14 soldiers, one sailor, one airman and three Marines. The 7-foot-tall figures represent racial and ethnic cross sections of America - whites, African- Americans, Asians, American Indians and Hispanics.
One Marine carries an ammunition case about the size of a lunch box and a tripod on his shoulder.
The airman, wearing a fur hat, is the only one not wearing a helmet. There's also a statue of an African-American Army medic and a South Korean soldier fighting with the American unit.
Previous U.S. stamps have recognized the bravery of Korean War veterans and the significance of the Korean War in U.S. and world history. In 1985, the Postal Service issued the 22-cent "Veterans Korea" stamp. "The Korean War," a 33-cent stamp, was issued as part of the 1950s, and the "Celebrate the Century" stamp pane in 1999.
Congress authorized the building of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in 1986 and it was dedicated on July 27, 1995.
Shown marching in a wedge formation as if on patrol, the statues represent troops walking grimly through a triangular field of juniper bushes and marble barriers that symbolize the rough terrain in Korea. Their objective, at the apex of the triangular "field of service," is symbolized by a masted American flag. The figures are clad in wind-blown ponchos to recall the harsh weather troops endured during the three-year war - 1950 to 1953.
The 19 statues reflect off a shiny, 164-foot-long black granite wall. A computer-controlled sandblaster etched the wall's 41 panels, creating a mural of more than 2,500 images of U.S. personnel who supported combat troops. The etchings represent Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel. Equipment etchings include everything from rocket launchers, vehicles and tankers, to hospital units, to chaplains of all denominations and switchboard and radio operators.
Faces etched into the wall came from photographs in the National Archives and the National Air and Space Museum. Some of the people whose images were used are still alive.
The reflective quality of the granite creates the illusion of 38 statues, symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months of the war. When viewed from afar, it also creates the appearance of the mountain ranges of Korea.
The third element of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, an area of remembrance, consists of a circular reflecting pool at the apex surrounded by a grove of 40 Linden trees. "Freedom Is Not Free" is engraved on the segment of the wall that extends into the pool area.
The memorial recognizes the contributions of more than 1.5 million Americans who served in Korea during the war. It also acknowledges the United Nations member countries that assisted South Korea in the conflict.
The Pool of Remembrance bears the inscription: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean communist troops invaded South Korea. The U.S. and 21 other nations rallied to the defense of South Korea with military personnel, medical support and supplies. More than 34,000 Americans had been killed and another 103,000 wounded when an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
More than 3,000 soldiers from other United Nations countries were killed and 16,000 were wounded. South Korean casualties vary greatly, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to more than 400,000 dead and hundreds of thousands wounded. Millions of civilians are thought to have been killed or wounded.
John W. Alli of Catonsville, Md, took the photograph on the stamp just before a snowstorm in January 1996. Alli, who served two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf as a Marine Corps second lieutenant, is now a commercial airline pilot and a lieutenant colonel aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.