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Efforts Ongoing To Build Korean War Memorial in Pasadena

Published on Monday, February 6, 2023 | 5:50 am

Soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division fight during the Korean War. The 40th ID was created National Guard units from California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. [Photo courtesy of the California State Military History Museum]
A project to create a memorial for men from the Pasadena area who died in the Korean War is currently in its early stages. 

The memorial will be about “remembering the approximate 17 men who were killed in Korea from the area served by the Pasadena Unified School District (Pasadena, Altadena & Sierra Madre),” former National Service Officer and member of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 446, James Maddox said. 

Members of a newly organized Korean War Memorial Project Committee met recently at the American Legion Post 13 in Pasadena to discuss the memorial.

When the design of the memorial is finally approved, it will be built at Pasadena’s Memorial Park, south of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and include the list of the approximately 17 who died in the war from the Pasadena area, Maddox who is on the Pasadena Korean War Memorial Project Committee added. 

Maddox also indicated it could take about three to four years of community outreach and discussions before a final design is approved. The project could be unveiled on Memorial Day either in 2026 or 2027, he said.

The committee is now working to recover the names of those Americans by researching the National Archives, U.S. Army records, and from records that families of those who served in Korea in the 1950s kept at home.

“To be clear, this is the most arduous aspect because locating the names fits the name of the Korean War, also referred to as the ‘The Forgotten War,” Maddox said. 

“Collecting accurate data is critical. One of the goals of the members is to make sure that we have the names and spellings correct.”

In last week’s meeting, the committee was to discuss updates on what the Pasadena Planning Commission has so far taken up about the plan to install a Korean War Memorial in Pasadena. Also, on the agenda was the design for the War Memorial and what review process has to be started before a final design is presented.

Maddox said there is a design presented by an architectural firm in Los Angeles that needs to be reviewed. 

The Korean War Memorial Project Committee itself is busy organizing and encourages Pasadena residents and stakeholders to support the project.

“Once we create the by-laws and articles of incorporation, we will then be in a position to solicit funds,” he explained. “We have an understanding with a foundation that will be the ‘pass-through’ to collect the funds which eliminates the need for us to file paperwork to become a 501(C)3 organization.”

With the knowledge of the efforts to create a Korean War Memorial, Pasadena residents can keep the issue on the table of all of the elected officials, Maddox said. 

In support of another Korean War Memorial in the state, veteran Korean movie star Kim Ji-mee, a Pasadena resident, donated $20,000 toward the construction of a Korean War Memorial in Fullerton. In 2021, the Orange County Korean War Memorial Committee said Kim personally visited the site of the memorial to donate, a Korean daily reported.  

Since 2002, Kim has stayed in Pasadena.

In a 2021 interview Kim reminisced about her memory of the Korean War (1950-53) and expressed her appreciation for American veterans.

“During the war, my parents ran a rice mill so whenever we saw veterans go past, my parents gave them rice. Many U.S. soldiers were being taken as prisoners with their hands tied but they still thanked my parents for the rice,” she told Korea JoongAng Daily. “We were living in Daejeon at the time and I remember seeing a lot of corpses of American soldiers on the streets. Therefore, I wanted to participate in the construction of this monument to express my gratitude to those young soldiers who gave up their lives to protect Korea.”  

The memorial in Fullerton displays the names of all 36,492 American soldiers who died in the Korean War, including 2,611 from California.

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