The Forgotten War's forgotten U.S. memorial is getting a big financial boost from one of South Korea's biggest corporations.
Samsung Electronics announced today that it will donate $1 million to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation's Maintenance Fund in Washington, D.C., in an effort to help keep the site a lasting tribute to troops who fought in the conflict.
The money will be kept in an endowment, with interest from the donation helping to defray yearly costs for the memorial. U.S. National Park Service officials pay for much of that work, but budget cutbacks have forced some maintenance work to be delayed, said William Weber, chairman of the memorial foundation.
"Most of the grouting in the pool is gone," he said. "The walls need to be washed two times a month. The statues need to be treated twice a year. And there isn't enough for all of that upkeep."
The foundation helps with that, but Weber admits the Korean War Memorial is less known and less supported than the nearby World War II and Vietnam War memorials on the National Mall.
Part of that is due to the lack of public knowledge of the Korean War itself, even though more than 36,000 U.S. troops died and more than 103,000 were wounded in the conflict.
Samsung was a major donor when the memorial was first built and endowed the American Legion's scholarship fund for families of Korean War veterans. In a statement, company officials called the donation a chance to help visitors to the site remember U.S. service members' "defense of freedom" in the conflict.
Workers from the electronics firm also will take part in cleaning the memorial grounds on Oct. 16, as part of the company's national day of service.
Weber said he hopes the move will inspire more American companies to follow suit and support the memorial sites.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.