WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall is officially complete nearly three decades after its dedication.
An international gathering of veterans, their families and top government officials dedicated the Wall of Remembrance Wednesday that displays the names of the 36,000 Americans who died supporting the war and the more than 7,000 Koreans who died augmenting the military.
“There’s too many on the wall unfortunately,” said Korean veteran Bob Bostwick.
The more than 43,000 fallen service members brought Bostwick to the nation’s capital from South Carolina. But even though he served in the war with some of them, Bostwick said he doesn’t remember their names.
“They were killed so fast I didn’t have time to be friends with them,” he said.
Bostwick said he was a prisoner of war, escaped and made it out alive.
“I didn’t say anything about it for 50 years,” he said. “Later on, I came out of my shell.”
Now right before his 90th birthday, Bostwick joined hundreds at the memorial’s new wall to honor those who died defending the people of South Korea.
“A monumental event that will never happen again,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are more than one million Korean War veterans living today but by 2030, there will be fewer than 200,000. That’s why many of the dedication attendees who were born after the war said it’s important to keep the service members’ memories alive.
“We are educating the young generations,” said Jaechul Ahn, the chairman of World Peace Freedom United.
Ahn brought his traveling photo display to the National Mall that highlights the war’s rescue operations and humanitarian efforts.
“They really did unbelievable things to save people,” Ahn said.
Like the new additions to the monument, Ahn’s display prominently acknowledges the 67 ally countries, but he credits one in particular with bringing them all together.
“Our thanks to the United States should go forever,” Ahn said.