Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Universal Soldier Monument in New York City, New York

On July 27, 1953   after three years of a   frustrating war, the United States, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, and South Korea agree to an armistice, bringing the Korean War to an end. Korean peninsula is still divided today. Three weeks ago North Korea  has decided to close its only direct diplomatic link with Washington.

 In all, some 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives during the war.   There is a  monument of a soldier’s silhouette carved from stainless steel on a base of black granite  in the Battery Park  just a stone's throw away  from the Sphere   -   a large metallic sculpture   that once stood in the middle of  the plaza  between the World Trade Center towers.

Erected in 1991, this sculpture was meant as a Korean War Veterans Memorial, although it's labeled "The Universal Soldier" .  By the way the memorial  has nothing to do with the 1992 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie of the same name.
Every July 27 at 10 AM, the anniversary of the end of the Korean war, the sun shines through the head of the cut out soldier and lights up a plaque at the base of the statue.
Three tiers support the  sculpture, each engraved with the flags of the 22 participating countries.  The plaza’s paving blocks are inscribed with the number of dead, wounded, and missing in action from each of the 22 countries that participated in the war.


   At the end of World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into Soviet (North Korean) and U.S. (South Korean) zones of occupation. Two new ideologically opposite countries were established in 1948: The Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).
On June 25, 1950 North Korean tanks  and  135,000 soldiers crossed the 38th parallel. Two days later  after    President Truman and his advisers came to a decision.  The President’s statement, as reprinted in the magazine, began:  “In Korea the government forces, which were armed to prevent border raids and to preserve internal security, were attacked by invading forces from North Korea. (...)
In these circumstances I have ordered United States Air and Sea forces to give the Korean government troops cover and support. The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war".

The American war in Korea lasted  three years. Over six million soldiers, sailors and airmen fought on both sides in the Korean War.  More than three million of these were  from North Korea, China and Russia. Opposing them were almost three million from South Korea and from  United Nations   countries including Australia.



Fifteen foreign nations other than the United States and South Korea sent combat forces to serve in the United Nations Command in Korea during the Korean War.  Eight foreign nations deployed more than 100 naval vessels to Korean waters . Five noncombatant nations provided hospitals or ambulance units.
 In 1987 the Korean War Veterans Memorial Committee was formed to raise money to build a monument to commemorate the soldiers of the “forgotten war.”    The winning design was done by a British sculptor  Mac Adams. The memorial was installed  in 1991. It was the first major Memorial dedicated to the Korean War in the United States.