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2014 Dedication of the Meditation Garden

July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014 was a day of celebration at our World Headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina.

By mid morning, people were arriving in preparation for the dedication ceremony of the Meditation Garden and the unveiling of a bronze statue of our founder, Grandmaster Jae C. Shin. Approximately one thousand members, families and friends of The World Tang Soo Do Association were present. Master of Ceremonies for the event was Master Mitchell Dunn. A brief explanation of the Garden was given by Master Jim Mars.

Behind the scenes history of our Memorial Garden. Grandmaster Shin and Mr. Jason Whitcraft first discussed the garden about three years ago. Master Mark Taylor, the architect of the garden, reviewed the initial design work of Grandmaster Shin and Mr. Whitcraft. He started to incorporate those ideas with other ideas that Grandmaster Shin had. Master Taylor’s architectural renderings were the guide for the making of the Memorial Garden.

Ms. Cathy Chandler, landscape and design contractor was hired to develop the garden based upon Master Taylor’s designs. She translated the architectural rendering and created the garden that we see today. The Headquarters’ Garden is truly an oasis where peace and harmony will be cultivated. Cathy employed Rob Walpole to build the entrance gate, um/yang circle, pagoda, and bridge. Michael Mann laid the stonework that formed the flag, labyrinth and walkway.

Grandmaster’s Wishes

It was Grandmaster Shin’s wish to be buried at Headquarters. During phase I of the garden, arrangements were made to bury his ashes in the garden. July of 2013 his ashes and a beautiful granite monument were placed in the garden.

The Garden

Passing through the gates guarded by the lion statues you will see the bronze statue of Grandmaster Shin to your left. As you walk further into the garden you will notice the Korean Flag which was created with stone. A Pagoda was built in the center of the flag. Inside the Pagoda is the hand-painted Um/Yang circle of the Korean Flag. The Pagoda is a place to sit and meditate. From the flag a pathway leads to the Bridge. Cross the Bridge and you prepare to enter the Labyrinth.

Grandmaster Shin wanted a labyrinth to be incorporated into the garden. Catherine Shin, daughter of Grandmaster Shin, told Master Mars that Grandmaster Shin had a favorite labyrinth design. His fondness for this particular labyrinth stemmed from his stay at a hospital in Delaware. Catherine went to the hospital where she took photos and measurements of Grandmasters favorite labyrinth. We replicated this labyrinth design in the Memorial Garden.

Ten years ago Mr. Thi Ho donated the two lions and two beautifully carved lanterns to the WTSDA. They were destined to be use when the new Headquarters was built. The lions were installed at the entrance of the garden. The beautifully carved lanterns stand within the garden.

Grandmaster Shin wanted a statue of himself on the grounds of the World Headquarters. A bronze statue was sculpted by Ms. Cathy Hopkins. A famous photo of Grandmaster Shin in front of the Shaolin Temple, Henan Province, China was the model used for the design.

Entering the Garden

Our Grandmasters and Chil Dan Masters entered the garden. Grandmaster Beaudoin said a few words about this momentous occasion. Grandmaster Beaudoin and Grandmaster Strong unveiled the statue. Upon first seeing the statue, I felt quiet inside. Memories of Grandmaster Shin flooded into my mind. Perhaps you will sense his presence when you visit the garden. His statue stands looking out over the garden and labyrinth. Grandmaster Beaudoin talked about the statue. He reminisced about his long time friend and teacher, Grandmaster Shin. Robert Shin, son of Grandmaster Shin, spoke about his Dad. Stories that we loved hearing. 

Stories that brought tears to our eyes. The Grandmasters, the Shin family, and the Chil Dan Masters walked through the garden, over the bridge and through the labyrinth in silence. The Pagoda was the central meeting place after exiting the labyrinth. The perfect place to talk and take photos that will help us remember the day. We all watched and waited patiently for our turn to enter the garden. Being in the garden is a memorable experience. I invite you to visit and create your own memories. It was a wonderful day. A day when our Tang Soo Do Family came together to honor the memory of our founder, Grandmaster Jae C. Shin. A time and place to honor the dreams of the past and to embrace the dreams of the future.

A special thank you and our deepest appreciation to the many creative people who helped to make this garden possible. Thank you to Mr. Jason Whitcraft, Master Mark Taylor, Ms. Cathy Chandler, Mr. Eugene Peterson and Mr. Andrew Long. A special thank you to Ms. Cathy Hopkins for her outstanding sculpture of Grandmaster Shin’s bronze statue.

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