Opening of Korean War Veterans Memorial

U.S. #3803 was issued on this day in 2003.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was officially dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

Plans for the memorial wall date back to the 1980s. Congress officially approved it on April 20, 1986, with the project managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The board then held a design competition and President George H.W. Bush oversaw the groundbreaking on June 14, 1993. The construction took about two years.

U.S. #3803 FDC – Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

The memorial consists of several different parts. The main feature is the 164-foot-long Mural Wall in the shape of a triangle. The wall was sandblasted with over 2,500 photographs of troops serving on land, sea, and in the air.

Within this triangle are 19 stainless steel statues that range in height from 7 foot 3 inches to 7 foot six inches. These figures represent each of the branches of the armed forces – 14 from the Army, three from the Marines, one from the Navy and one from the Air Force. They each wear full combat gear and appear to be walking through bushes representing Korea’s terrain.

U.S. #2152 was based on 1950 photo of U.S. troops retreating from Chosin Reservoir.

North of these statues is the United Nations Wall, which lists the 22 member nations that provided troops or medical support during the war. At the top of the triangle wall is a pool of remembrance surrounded by linden trees and benches. Here there are inscriptions of the number of troops killed, wounded, missing in action, and held as prisoners of war.

U.S. #3187e from the Celebrate the Century: 1950s stamp sheet.

The memorial was officially dedicated on July 27, 1995, with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Korean President Kim Young Sam in attendance. Eight years later, the USPS issued a stamp honoring the memorial (#3803, shown above). The stamp features a photo of the statues on a snowy day, taken by a Marine. The stamp was later at the center of a federal court case!

The sculptor of the statues wanted compensation for the commercial use of his art, because he didn’t sign away his intellectual property rights. The USPS tried to argue that it was actually architecture, and that he alone didn’t design them, but he ultimately won the case.

Remember, you can click on any of the images above to learn more about the stamps and covers and purchase them for your collection.

Click here for video from the dedication ceremony.

Click here for a short video of the memorial.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. We have to do something about people bringing law suits for the purposes of “making a buck” off of an entity with “deep pockets”. Who do you think paid that photographer for winning that lawsuit; that’s right you and me (we are the federal government). There should be reasonable limits to how much you can sue for. You shouldn’t be able to set yourself up for luxury for the rest of your life because you won a law suit. Lawyers and Judges are out of control in this country (judges making up the rules as they go along, and lawyers taking cases for just about anything and everyone; serious tort reform would help with the current health care dilemma.

    Great article…wonderful memorial to the Korean War veterans. The statues look alive. If you have not seen the memorial, you should.

  2. Glad when this one was created as well as the Vietnam one. Was much less controversial than the latter and took much less time to construct. Was long overdue. BTW, as a Vietnam vet, I think the Vietnam wall is very moving and appropriate. Some of my High School classmates are memorialized on it along with the name of my cousin, James Zeimet, who was killed in 1968 while co-piloting a helicopter on a MEDEVAC mission.

  3. An artist or sculptor has a right to be compensated for his work and its appearance in other venues. If the USPS had asked him if he wanted compensation for the use of his sculpture there would not have been need for a law suit. Sometimes government entities chose the hard way and yes we the tax payer gets burned financially. Nice to finally see recognition of the brave soldiers who fought in Korea.

    1. Carolyn,

      The operative word here is compensated…and if you read what I wrote I said words like reasonable, and shouldn’t be allowed to set yourself up for life. I was not born yesterday and don’t need to be lectured about an artist’s or sculptors right to be compensated. Like I said, something has got to change on this front. Just the medical law suits alone are bankrupting the health care system. Get your head out of the sand.

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