Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The dramatic and somber Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in November 1982.  The V-shaped memorial consists of two 250-ft walls of polished black granite inscribed with the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. men and women who were killed or missing in the Vietnam War.  Privately funded through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the memorial was designed by Maya Ying Lin, whose design was chosen over 1,421 others submitted in the public competition.  Lin insisted that the names be listed in chronological order, not in alphabetical order or by rank.  She explained that this way "if you were in the war, you could find your time and a few people you knew."  To ease a controversy aroused by the nontraditional appearance of the memorial, a sculpture of three servicemen and a flag were placed off to the side and later  the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was added.

This Memorial is a place where everyone, regardless of their opinion of the Vietnam war, can come together and remember and honor those who served. By doing so, the memorial has paved the way towards reconciliation and healing, a process that continues today.  Ironically, this memorial to America’s most divisive wars attracts more tourists than all the other memorials in Washington.  Many leave flowers, personal mementos, or written messages.


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