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