I went to the NYS Museum a couple of weeks ago to check out the CANstruction exhibit and realized that I don’t usually find myself on this side of the Empire State Plaza and it was a beautiful day so I decided to go for a walk. I knew we had memorials to the brave soldiers that fought for our country all around that part of Albany but I never saw them in person or took the time to read what each one was for. Today for Saturday’s spots, I’m going to focus on the Korean War memorial site on Madison Ave right next to the NYS Museum.
*To preface this blog entry, I just want to state that this is not meant to start an open discussion about war or peace have it be in relation to the Korean War or the war we find ourselves a part of today. I keep my blog non-partisan and no matter your feelings on war itself, this blog entry is just to bring to light the Korean War memorials in the Capital District that some may not know about to remember those who fought for what they believed in which is one of the cornerstones of this country’s beliefs.*
To start, before I share the memorial, I feel like it’s important to describe a little bit about the war itself- a little bit of a history lesson if you will. The Korean War occurred between the years 1950-1953 between the Republic of Korea (USA & UN supported) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (supported by China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic). This war created a divide in the country of Korea with the North creating a communist government and the South creating a capitalist one. The war began when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. With the help of the United States as well as the United Nations, South Korea was able to repel the invasion. The war ended in 1953 with the signing of an agreement that created the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a kind of buffer zone between the two parts of the separated country.
On Madison Avenue there are two memorials related to the Korean War. The first memorial is dedicated to the men and women who were wounded in all of our wars erected by the Department of New York Military Order of the Purple Heart. On the memorial it says: “My stone is red for the blood they shed. The medal I bear is my country’s way to show they care. If I could be seen by all mankind, maybe peace will come in my lifetime.” I just find that statement to be so strong and the fact that it’s there and gives us a space to reflect on it, the war and potential for peace is a beautiful thing.
A short walk from this particular monument is a wall covered in facts about the war itself, a timeline about “The Forgotten War” as well as medals to signify each of the armed forces. The first plaque is dedicated to those from New York who fought in the Korean War. More than 325,000 NYS residents served in the armed forces during this war in Korea, four of which were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor. 2249 men gave their lives fighting, another 6531 were wounded, 7000 were prisoners of war and 8177 were missing in action. So even though your family personally may have not been affected by the Korean War, take into account how many people from New York State were involved and furthermore take the time to think about what that means all over the country. As the second plaque says, “1.5 million Americans…served their country, their flag and the principles of freedom for which it stands. We the people salute you.”