The Landscape Architect’s Guide to

Washington, D.C.

The National Mall & Memorial Parks

Korean War Memorial

Your Guide
Susan Spain, ASLA

The Korean War memorial reflects a return to more traditional representational commemoration, but with a twist. The visitor is placed within a military patrol in a foreign land in the mid-20th century. The stainless steel servicemen are wary, and their ponchos and heavy packs illustrate the conditions they served under. The message “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE” paired with the listings of those killed, missing in action, or injured reminds us of the cost of freedom and the sacrifice of many individuals and nations that aided the Republic of Korea.


The memorial was authorized in 1986. In 1989, a design competition was held for the Korean War Veterans Memorial to be located south of the Lincoln Reflecting Pool in a symmetrical position with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The winning design was submitted by Pennsylvania State University landscape architects Veronica Burns Lucas and Eliza Pennypacker Oberholtzer, and architects John Paul Lucas and Don Leon. They withdrew when design changes were demanded by the advisory board and reviewing agencies.

The eventual design was developed by the architecture firm Cooper-Lecky Partnership.

Groundbreaking was held in 1992; and the memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995 by President Clinton and the President of South Korea.


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