The memorial is one of four being presented at the Livingston County Airport in Howell Township now through Sunday. It was built by the nonprofit organization, Freedom’s Never Free, and consists of life-size statues placed as though they are walking through a Korean rice paddy. While the memorial mostly reflects a similar one in Washington D.C., one of its artistic differences is the inclusion of three statues picturing soldiers making a fire. Jeannie Ignash, President of Freedom’s Never Free, says that she’s not entirely sure why she wanted to include the three soldiers around the fire, except that she liked the idea of it.
Ignash is also looking to make another change to the memorial – specifically, the hands of the statue soldiers. The hands were originally made by filling rubber gloves with concrete, but Ignash now has another idea: she plans to replace the hands with hand moldings from veterans who served in Korea. She also plans to feature the biographies of each veteran whose hands are included in the memorial.
With the setting sun and the lights surrounding the memorial casting a hazy glow, one could be transported back in time to a moment such as the one depicted. Ignash, sharing a story about a veteran’s first time seeing the memorial in that light, says it caught him off guard and he nearly lost his balance. She tells WHMI, “I said, ‘are you okay?’ and he said, ‘I feel like I’m back there’…he said, ‘this is exactly what it was like’. So when we do something, we gauge if it’s a success and if we did it right based on our veterans’ reactions.”
In addition to its life-size statues, the memorial includes statistical signs noting the 54,246 U.S. soldiers killed, 8,177 missing, 7,140 captured, and 103,284 wounded as a result of the war. Ignash says the goal was to bring focus to veterans of the Korean War and to “do it justice”. (DK)