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The U.S. Korean War Memorial at the United Nations Cemetery in South Korea was installed on June 27. The piece was produced by Rock of Ages in Barre.
Photo: Photo by American Battle Monuments Commission

Barre granite is new, unique memorial in South Korea

BARRE TOWN — A first-of-its-kind war memorial that was dedicated in a one-of-a-kind cemetery over the summer was quarried and crafted right here in central Vermont.

Though it is one of three Korean War memorials designed and constructed by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), the one that was shipped from the Rock of Ages manufacturing plant in Barre Town to Busan, South Korea, earlier this year is the first non-World War I or World War II memorial the 90-year-old agency has tackled outside the United States.

Over the summer the memorial was installed and dedicated in South Korea at the one and only cemetery that is operated by the United Nations.

The focal point of the memorial, which was quietly crafted at Rock of Ages, is a polished slab of Barre gray granite that stands nearly nine feet tall, is four feet wide and a foot thick. With three words — “Honor, Freedom, Peace” — sandblasted on its granite face, the memorial’s “witness stone” is the latest tribute to Americans who served during the Korean War, including the 36,574 servicemen and servicewomen who died in Korea from 1950 to 1953.

Rock of Ages got the order in March, finished the stone in May and shipped it out in June, though many in the company were unaware of the work that was done locally on the high-profile memorial.

Not surprisingly, at least one of the other two Korean War memorials created by the ABMC has ties to Barre thanks to a local sculptor who won a government-sponsored contest back in 1990.

Frank Gaylord may be best known for his contribution to The Korean War Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 1995. Now referred to as “The Column,” Gaylord sculpted the clay models that were used to cast a platoon of 19 larger-than-life stainless steel soldiers that have long been the centerpiece of the national monument in Washington.

Gaylord’s copyrighted work was also the subject of his protracted legal battle with the United States Postal Service over an image it used for a 2003 stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

The stamp cost collectors 37 cents at the time it was issued and, barring a successful appeal in a seven-year-old lawsuit that made headlines this week, it will cost the U.S. Postal Service $685,000.

That’s how much the U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently decided Gaylord, now 88, is owed based on his copyright infringement case against the Postal Service.


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