Vietnam Veterans MemorialIN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES WHO SERVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR. THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES AND OF THOSE WHO REMAIN MISSING ARE INSCRIBED IN THE ORDER THEY WERE TAKEN FROM US.
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|Maya Ying Lin conceived her design as creating a park within a park-- a quiet protected place unto itself, yet harmonious with the site. To achieve this effect she chose polished black granite for the walls. Its mirrorlike surface reflects the surrounding trees, lawns, monuments, and the people looking for names. The memorial's walls point to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The 58,202 names are inscribed in chronological order of the date of the casualty, showing the war as a series of individual human sacrifices and giving each name a special place in history. "The names would become the memorial," Lin said.|
The names begin at the vertex of the walls below the date of the first casualty and continue to the end of the east wall. They resume at the tip of the west wall, ending at the vertex above the date of the last death. With the meeting of the beginning and ending, a major epoch in American history is denoted. Each name is preceded on the west wall or followed on the east wall by one of two symbols: a diamond or a cross. The diamond denotes that the individual's death was confirmed. The approximately 1,150 persons whose names are designated by the cross were either missing or prisoners at the end of the war and remain missing and unaccounted for. If a person returns alive, a circle, as a symbol of life, will be inscribed around the cross. In the event an individual's remains are returned or are otherwise accounted for, the diamond will be superimposed over the cross.
The Faces of HonorSculptor Frederick Hart's goal was to create a moving evocation of the experience and service of the Vietnam veteran. He has described it as follows: "They wear it on their uniform and carry the equipment of war; they are young. The contrast between the innocence of their young and the weapons of war underscores the poignancy of their sacrifice. There is about them the physical contact and sense of unity that bespeaks the bonds of love and sacrifice that is the nature of men at war....Their strength and their vulnerability are both evident." The flag flies from a 60-foot staff. The base contains the emblems of the five services. The sculpture and flag form an entrance plaza.
The 1,421 design entries submitted were judged anonymously by a jury of eight internationally recognized artists and designers. On May 1, 1981, the jury presented its unanimous selection for first prize. The winning design was the work of Maya Ying Lin of Athens, Ohio, who at the time was a 21-year old student at Yale University. The following January it was determined that a flagstaff and figurative sculpture depicting fighting men in Vietnam would be added to the memorial site. Washington sculptor Frederick Hart was selected to design the sculpture of the servicemen.
On March 11, 1982, the memorial's design and plans received final approval,
and ground was formally broken on March 26. Construction of the walls was
completed in late October and the memorial was dedicated November 13, 1982.
The life-size sculpture was installed in fall of 1984. On November 11 of
that year, President Ronald Reagan accepted the completed memorial on behalf
of the Nation. The $7,000,000 cost of establishing the memorial was raised
entirely through contributions from corporations, foundations, unions, veteran's
groups, civic organizations, and more than 275,000 individual Americans.
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|The Vietnam Women's Memorial
Dedicated on November 11, 1993, as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Women's Memorial honors the women of the U.S. Armed Forces who took part in the war. The statue was sculpted by Glenna Goodacre and depicts three women coming to the aid of a fallen soldier. It recalls the courage and sacrifice of all the women who served. Planted around the memorial are eight yellowwood trees--a living tribute to the eight servicewomen killed in action while in Vietnam.
The completed memorial has achieved all that Lin and Hart hoped it would -- and more. Rubbings are taken of the names by loved ones. Every day family members and friends leave mementos and tokens of remembrance at the memorial, making them as much of a legacy of the Vietnam years as the memorial itself.
Text reprinted from National Park Service Brochure, Government Printing Office, 1995.
To learn more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, visit the National Park Service web site that contains additional photos and data at http://www.nps.gov/vive/.
Additional images of the Vietnam Memorial. Click on the image to enlarge. A
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All images are 1024 by 760. © George Cassutto, 2010
|The Women's Memorial
|Touching a Name||In Memoriam||The Apex||Washington Monument Reflected|
The Human Representation
|Along the Mall||From a Distance||A Nation's Sacrifice|