20 March 2016

Korean War Veterans Memorial by R. Allan Christianson

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Even though we knew this memorial was along the Northshore trail, (we ride past here all the time) when we went specifically to photograph it we had to stop to think about exactly where it was. Unlike the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and the newer WWII Memorial (which are both easily visible from across the Allegheny River) this monument is tucked into the landscaping.

You have to make more of an effort to see and appreciate the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial. The monument is cocooned within trees and shrubbery between the Riverwalk and the walkway behind the buildings along N Shore Drive. There is no direct access from the Northshore Trail into the monument space. A ramp leading from the trail passes just below the monument on the way up to Mazeroski Way. From there you would need to make a left turn onto the promenade that runs through the upper level of the park (behind Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse).

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There’s also an entrance to the memorial from the staircase that runs along the east side of the Water Steps. Even with the fountain full of kids, dogs, and big kids gleefully wading and enjoying themselves, the area by the monument has bit of a sheltered feel when the trees are all leafed out.

The centerpiece of the monument is visible from the trail, but there’s so much more to the memorial. A long wall is filled with the names of local veterans of this conflict.

The Korean War Veterans Association of W. Pa has installed several plaques with information about the War. One offers a brief history while four large plaques give a chronology of events.

On the plaque shown above, the architect gives his insight on the memorial. The following exert comes from that plaque.

This Memorial intends to symbolize and express the life spirit of those who served, directly and indirectly, in the Korean War. It is a reflection, in part, of just one who served. It is meant to signal remembrance of the breadth and pulse of their identity. And, it is a marker for the array of human qualities nurtured by the freedom we protect.

This Memorial is positioned and shaped to capture sunlight. As the sun travels the horizon, columns of light articulate, sequentially, aspects of human spirit, experience and feeling. Through solid and void, light and shadow, the sun traces a spectrum of individual and shared experience.

It is hoped this Memorial will become a welcome place; that it can evoke memory, emotion and vision through the eyes of each visitor. It is meant to be very personal.

The focal point of the monument is designed to use natural lighting to bring your attention to emotions and experiences from this war, one or two at a time. Of course you miss this if you visit on a cloudy day. We had to return when the sun was out in order to really see this effect.

Like Vietnam veterans, the Korean War veterans were largely unrecognized on their return home. Often referred to as the forgotten war, the Korean War involved around 26,000 Pittsburgh veterans. Calling it a conflict or police action didn’t change the affect it had on their lives. On this small piece of the Northshore they are remembered and honored for their service.

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