By Michele Dotson; Staff Writer email@example.com
Two and a half years since the groundbreaking ceremony and beginning of construction of the NC Korean War Veterans Memorial in the Park on Fairview, construction is 85 percent complete.
The granite sign was first, then came the footings and construction of the four-foot tall brick wall planter, topped with 80 green boxwood plants.
Plumbing PCV lines were laid, connecting the fountain in the center of the memorial and the irrigation system to the planter and trees. A 1,000-gallon tank to supply the water has been buried and is ready to be hooked up to the main water supply line. Electrical conduit lines to the in-ground lighting throughout the memorial are ready for wiring to the control panel. A six-inch concrete flooring was poured and an additional amount of concrete was added on four sections in the center that will be covered with Astroturf. Two life-size granite statues, one dressed in a poncho and the other in class A uniform, stand guard at the four 14-foot tall granite pylons with the names of the 788 men from North Carolina who were killed or are listed as missing in action during the Korean War.
Loads of four-inch granite slabs were placed starting at the sign and moving down into and through the memorial. On many of the slabs are more than 400 engraved memorial pavers remembering and honoring “veterans of all wars.” Stainless steel handrails have been manufactured and await installation on the two handicap ramps leading to the fountain and Hallowed area of the memorial. The center is the water fountain with the South Korean flag, the “Taeguk,” colored in red and blue with fiber-optic lighting at night.
The Park on Fairview will soon be home to more than one military memorial.
Chapter 634 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will be erecting a monument at the park dedicated to those who have been wounded in the service of our country.
Raymond Hait is the Senior Vice Commander of Chapter 634, and has played a large part in the effort to get the memorial put up at the park.
“We went through all the channels,” Hait said. “We talked to parks and recreation, then we went to the city council—we’ve been all the way through it.”
The Korean Children’s Choir performed at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Fairview Road last Friday. The choir is touring the United States and Canada, and stopped in Mint Hill July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 armistice.
“As you know the armistice was signed 59 years ago, and I trust there would be no more war in my country or your country – that there may be a sustaining peace…I pray that this nation and the state of North Carolina will continue to enjoy the peace,” said a South Korean representative introducing the choir.
The children sang the National Anthem, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and God Bless America.
Numerous people attended the event, including veterans and their families, as well as members of the South Korean military. Many toured the memorial after the performance.
The memorial broke ground June 2010, and is built to “ensure that the soldier’s sacrifice will always be remembered,” and to commemorate what is called the “forgotten war.”
Adjacent to the KWVM will be the Armed Forces Museum and Archives of the Carolinas. It will showcase the five branches of the United States military. The museum is expected to break ground in 2014.
[simple_slideshow] The dedication ceremony for the Korean War Veterans Memorial has been postponed. Originally set for July 27 in honor of the 1953 armistice, the ceremony will be some time in November. A final date has not yet been set; organizers are trying to plan around Veterans Day events.
Some festivities will take place as scheduled for July 27. A Korean children’s choir is set to perform, and colonels from South Korea and the mayor will be present.
The center fountain is near completion. The water tank is being manufactured to recycle its water and fit in the fountain.
“It’s a work of art, believe me,” said Don Putnum of the Korean War Veterans Association.
They continue to raise funds for the project, which costs $150,000. Two-thirds of that cost is a loan, leaving the other $50,000 to cover granite, plumbing, electrical work, and brickwork. The main setback is the granite for the flooring.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Putnum. Professionals he talked to in the field are surprised at how quickly they have managed to turn their plans of a memorial into a reality. “It should take 10-12 years to do what we did in six.”
The memorial broke ground June 2010. Since then, granite blocks for the main sign and dedicated pavers have been engraved, brick walls have been built, and pillars and statues have been erected.
This work honors the 789 North Carolinians who were killed or missing in action during the Korean War. The memorial is built to “ensure that the soldier’s sacrifice will always be remembered,” and to commemorate what is called the “forgotten war.”
Adjacent to the KVWM will be the Armed Forces Museum and Archives of the Carolinas. It will showcase the five branches of the United States military: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The museum will cover 250 years of military history through artifacts and interactive learning, an much of the history will focus on the Carolinas.
Like the KVWM, AFMAC is selling granite pavers to honor a veteran or a member of the armed forces, and to support the museum. Pavers range in size, and prices start at $200. The museum is expected to break ground in 2014.
Photos by Amanda Waters.