Sunday, April 25, 2010

United Nations Memorial Cemetery

Memorials commemorating the Korean War exist worldwide.  Here in Busan, the local  memorial includes a cemetery where soldiers and medical staff are buried.    
In total, 40,896 people died as a result of the Korean War.  Nearly 36,500 of them were Americans.  Approximately 2,000 Americans rest in the cemetery.  We assume the others were sent home to their families following the war.  The deceased came from 2o other countries as well. 

The cemetery was a beautiful, peaceful space.   
Flags from each country flew high in the sky above their respective country’s plots. 
Beautiful trees, flowers and plants, originating from all over the world contributed to the scenery.  We were glad to see trees!  Busan is seriously lacking in them. 
We wove our way through the cemetery to The Wall of Remembrance.  The Wall listed each and every name of the fallen soldiers and medical staff.
Leading into the Wall’s entrance, a beautiful and fitting quote was engraved in both English and Korean:
The wall formed an enclosure around a pond, whose round shape is meant to signify the Universe.
A helmet statue in the pond represents the War, and the flowers across the pond from the helmet are meant to symbolize sublimation from war to peace.
Finally, a perpetually lit flame (far left in front of the helmet) pays a tribute to the fallen, while simultaneously expressing an eternal wish for worldwide peace.
The names on the Wall were separated by country.  The US had listed each person's name following the state they originated from.  Below Ryan is examining the names from Oregon.

After walking through the cemetery and Remembrance Wall, we passed a small pond and park area.  A few ducks milled around, and Ryan quickly took an interest in examining them.  I think they’d frown on hunting in such a peaceful place.
On our way out we watched a short documentary about the war, which inspired us to delve deeper into Korean history. We also visited a small museum near the entrance, where each memorial was pictured, including this one outside Salem, Oregon.
In the museum we learned there were three women who chose to be buried with their husbands upon their own deaths, some forty years after their husband’s.

The rain held off until the moment we entered the taxi to head out for dinner.  Great timing.  Great day.

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