Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. I am here to speak in support of HR 2563, a bill I introduced with bipartisan support in July. As you know, this bill authorizes a Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial and allows certain private contributions to fund that Wall. The proposed Wall will list the names of the more than 33,000 American soldiers who were killed in the War, along with the number of soldiers killed from the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (or KATUSAs). Additionally, the Wall will include the number of soldiers from the United States Army, Korean Augmentation, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, and the other nations of the United Nations Command who were wounded, missing in action, or listed as prisoners of war.
Across the United States and around the world, recognition on Washington, DC's National Mall is widely considered to be an unparalleled honor. Having served in World War II myself, I remember how much it meant to me and many of my fellow veterans when the World War II Memorial was unveiled on the Mall a few years ago. When I was approached by Colonel Weber and the organization he chairs, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, about a possible Wall of Remembrance, I understood the importance of this project to them. Colonel Weber, a World War II and Korean War veteran, is a true American hero, and he, along with the Foundation's members, are committed to fighting for the memories of their brothers who did not make it back from Korea with them.
Most visitors to the Korean War Veterans Memorial find it to be an extraordinarily moving monument. However, many people, including a large number of Korean War veterans, feel that the Memorial does not adequately convey the extent of the American sacrifice in Korea.
While every detail of the original Memorial design was intended to be symbolic in some way, many feel that the message is too subtle. HR 2563 would allow construction of a Wall as a refinement to the existing Memorial, without substantially altering its character. This bill is consistent with the Commemorative Works Act that governs, among other things, the monuments located within the general reserve area of the National Mall.
In closing, I'd like to emphasize that HR 2563 will not cost taxpayers any money, and it already enjoys true bipartisan support among our colleagues. Later today, you will hear from Colonel Weber and another witness, Mr. Bill Lecky, who was the architect of record for the original Memorial design and construction. These two gentlemen have been involved with this project for over 20 years and will be able to provide you with as much background and as many details as you need. These two are experts on the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and I hope that you all take this opportunity to ask them any questions that you might have.
Thank you for your time.