WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The battle-scarred faces of American soldiers are frozen in time in the statues and etchings at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
“It was a man-to-man, bayonet to bayonet kind of war," said Col. William Weber (Ret.), a Korean War veteran. "If you were going to pick a place in the world to have a war, you wouldn’t have picked Korea.”
Our soldiers faced rough terrain, hot summers, and sub-zero winters.
“Every month, 1,000 American soldiers died and 3,000 were wounded," explained Weber.
Weber wanted to honor our Korean War dead. In the early 1990s, he was on the team that helped create the memorial. It opened in 1995, but something was always missing – the names of the deceased.
“Our board tried desperately to have a wall of remembrance included in the memorial in the original design," he said. "At that point in time, there was a tremendous controversy about the Vietnam Wall, because the soldiers who served in Vietnam and survived felt the Memorial didn’t honor their service. It only honored the services of those who fell in battle.”
But slowly, opinions changed. Weber and others spent years petitioning Congress to make a wall of remembrance a reality.
In September, Weber joined House Speaker Paul Ryan as he signed a bill authorizing the wall. President Obama made it law shortly after.
The wall will be built on the back edge of the memorial.
“We’re looking at least $25-30 million to build this through the design concepts, the architect. We still need to hire an architect, we still need funds to hire an architect and get through the approval process. The construction is easy piece," said Col. Rick Dean (Ret.) of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.
The whole process could take five years.
“Hopefully, when we complete the Wall of Remembrance, people will visit the memorial and say, ‘Are you telling me that in three years that many men died because freedom isn’t free?’” said Weber. “Freedom truly is not free. It takes sacrifice – human sacrifice – for that to happen.”
For more information about the memorial and how you can donate to the Wall of Remembrance project, click the link on the top, right-hand side of this story.