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
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
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.