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New York Korean War Veterans Memorial

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found postedwithin the park.

This monument honors military personnel who served in the Korean War (1950-1953). The memorial, dedicated in 1991, was designed by Welsh-born artist Mac Adams and is notable as one of the first Korean War memorials erected in the United States. In 1987, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Committee was formed to raise the funds to build a monument to commemorate the fallen heroes and living comrades of the Korean War, which is often referred to as the “Forgotten War.”

The memorial features a 15-foot-high black granite stele with the shape of a Korean War soldier cut out of the center. Also known as “The Universal Soldier,” the figure forms a silhouette that allows viewers to see through the monument to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This literal void reinforces the figurative theme of absence and loss, and serves as a metaphor for death.

One of the three tiers in the base of the monument is decorated with mosaic flags of countries that participated in the U.N.-sponsored mission. The plaza’s paving blocks are inscribed with the numbers of dead, wounded, and missing in action from each of the 22 countries that participated in the war, which were based on official government statistics provided at the time of the memorial’s placement in 1991. Since the creation of the monument, the original statistics have been dramatically revised and as of 2019 the Republic of Korea’s official count had grown to 137,899 dead, 450,742 wounded, and 24,495 missing.

Korean War Veterans are also commemorated in New York with the Brooklyn Korean War Veterans Plaza in Cadman Plaza, the Korean War Veterans Parkway (which was known as the Richmond Parkway until it was renamed in April 1997 by the New York State Legislature), and the Queens Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kissena Park.

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New York Korean War Veterans Memorial Details

  • Location: North of Castle Clinton
  • Sculptor: Mac Adams
  • Description: Obelisk with cutout in shape of soldier on base with mosaic flags, two plaques on two markers situated in circular plaza (axis aligned with Statue of Liberty)
  • Materials: Obelisk and base--Pennsylvania black granite (polished); outline of cutout--stainless steel; mosaic tiles; plaques--stainless steel; markers and plaza paving--Barre gray granite
  • Dimensions: Obelisk H: 15' W: 10'6" D: 4'5"; base H: 5' W": 10'6" x d 6'; each marker front h 2'6" x rear h 3' x w 3' x d 2'; plaza diameter 50'
  • Cast: 1991
  • Dedicated: June 25, 1991
  • Donor: New York Korean Veterans Memorial Commission
  • Inscription: Front: THE KOREAN WAR
    1950 - 1953

    Back: THE UNIVERSAL SOLDIER

    Pavers:
    REPUBLIC OF KOREA -- DEAD 58,127 WOUNDED 175,743 MISSING 174,244
    AUSTRALIA -- DEAD 339 WOUNDED 1,216 MISSING 29
    BELGIUM -- DEAD 107 WOUNDED 345 MISSING 5
    CANADA -- DEAD 291 WOUNDED 1,072 MISSING 21
    COLOMBIA -- DEAD 140 WOUNDED 452 MISSING 65
    DENMARK
    ETHIOPIA -- DEAD 120 WOUNDED 536
    FRANCE -- DEAD 288 WOUNDED 818 MISSING 18
    GREECE -- DEAD 194 WOUNDED 610 MISSING 2
    INDIA
    ITALY
    LUXEMBOURG -- DEAD 2 WOUNDED 5
    NETHERLANDS -- DEAD 120 WOUNDED 645 MISSING 3
    NEW ZEALAND -- DEAD 42 WOUNDED 81
    NORWAY -- DEAD 2
    PHILIPPINES -- DEAD 92 WOUNDED 299 MISSING 57
    SOUTH AFRICA -- DEAD 20 MISSING 16
    SWEDEN
    THAILAND -- DEAD 114 WOUNDED 794 MISSING 5
    TURKEY -- DEAD 721 WOUNDED 1,475 MISSING 175
    UNITED KINGDOM -- DEAD 909 WOUNDED 3,497 MISSING 141
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -- DEAD 54,246 WOUNDED 103,248 MISSING 8,177

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namingsoften in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, butnot necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the yearlisted reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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