A Queens Park Remembers The Forgotten War
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Council Member John Liu, Korean War Veterans Memorial Association President Andrew Musumeci, Korean War veterans, and numerous elected officials and community members to unveil the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kissena Park. The commemorative and reflective memorial plaza and sculpture honors the forgotten heroes of the Korean War and the 1953 cease-fire that ended military engagement on the divided Korean Peninsula.
"Monuments are created to remind us of the people and events that should never be forgotten," said Commissioner Benepe. "The Korean War has sometimes been a forgotten piece of history but, thanks to Council Member Liu, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association and all involved, the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kissena Park will now serve as a daily reminder of the war and those who fought in it. We are pleased to provide a home for this important memorial and hope it will serve as a tribute to this conflict and inspire appreciation for the men and women who served-and died-for our country."
"After many years of tirelessly coordinated efforts, this important memorial has been completed. It will be a reminder for people of many generations to come to always remember 'The Forgotten War,'" said Council Member Liu. "This memorial will surely become a focal point in our community where people will gather to reflect on the truism that freedom is not free."
"I'm very happy and delighted to have this memorial erected and constructed in memory of those who died in Korea-several were good friends of mine-and for all the men who survived the Korean War," said Korean War Veterans Memorial Association President Andrew Musumeci.
The site in Flushing, home to the city's largest Korean population, and near the historic Kissena Grove, serves as an ideal location for this commemorative site. The bronze sculpture, by artist William Crozier and entitled The Anguish of Experience, consists of a larger-than-life solitary soldier, whose face portrays the anguish of war. On a smaller scale behind him are the silhouettes of five soldiers carrying a stretcher and scaling the dangerous mountain terrain of Korea where many battles were fought. The 16.5-foot long, 12-foot high and 10-foot wide sculpture is placed in a plaza adjacent to a flagpole. The plaza surrounding the memorial has two types of granite paving stones that are laid in an asymmetric pattern symbolic of the rice fields of Korea. Prairie grass, which is native across the U.S., grows at the base of the sculpture and represents the soldier's return home. Behind the memorial area is a new curved walkway that leads to a quiet, shaded area under a Beech tree. Inscribed are also the names of the 172 Queens natives who lost their lives during the war, as well as the individuals and groups that supported the project.
Council Member Liu and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association were instrumental in raising the necessary funding and coordinating the design and site selection. The construction of the plaza was funded with a $430,000 allocation from Council Member Liu, $212,000 from Mayor Bloomberg and $50,000 from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. The sculpture was made possible by $153,000 from the South Korean government, $50,000 from the State, and $166,000 in private donations.
Between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953, conflict raged after North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea, a United States ally. Sandwiched between World War II and the controversial Vietnam War, it often receives less attention and has become known as the Forgotten War. However 1.8 million Americans served in the Korean War and more than 36,000 died.
Throughout the city, more than 1,200 monuments in public parks, plazas and traffic triangles serve as a daily reminder of the people and events that have helped to shape the city, the nation and the world. While several monuments throughout the city are dedicated to all veterans, one in Manhattan's Battery Park is dedicated to all New Yorkers who lost their lives in the Korean War and one in Brooklyn's Columbus Park is dedicated to those from Brooklyn who lost their lives in the Korean War.
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