annonAt the age of twenty one, a female undergraduate at Yale Universitynamed Maya Lin submitted her design for the Vietnam Memorial.
Her ideafor the memorial was extremely unique and controversial. After longdiscussions by a panel, it was chosen for construction. The designthat she submitted was one that was very different in comparison toother memorials, and it was one that has a tendency to leave a lot ofquestions on the minds of the visitors. On the face of the memorialthere is a list of all those who died or are missing in the order bywhich they were lost. It could seem to some one who did notunderstand the incident that the monument honors only those lost, butthat is incorrect. Maya Lin?s design formed into the most uniquememorial structure of its kind, which honors all who served in theVietnam War (Colliers 23: 137).
The official name given to the monument was the Vietnam Veteransmemorial. In this name alone it is clear that it was not erected forthe sole purpose of honoring only those who were lost in the conflict. The term KIA was the abbreviation used for those people who werekilled in action, and these people represent 47,000 of the 58,000names on the wall. The other 11,000 were soldiers who died fromcrashes, snake bites, illnesses, and other non-combat related deaths(Olson 227). There is no distinction made between the two groups onthe monument.
The structure is a v-shaped polished granite slab thatunlike other monuments has no message of honor or patriotism. All ofthose subjects are left to the thoughts of the beholder. People oftenfind therapy in locating the name of a companion or a loved one. TheVietnam Veterans Memorial is by far the most emotional moving warmonument in Washington, and that alone makes it very unique(Collier?s138). In comparison with other monuments, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial isvastly different.
A point of comparison could be the Marine Corps WarMemorial, otherwise known as the Iwo Jima monument. This monument is asculpture of three soldiers risking their lives to keep the Americanflag flying. The structure has a deep sense of understood patriotismand there is a great deal of honor that is also associated with it. Unlike the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Iwo Jima monument is atribute only to the Marines who served in World War Two. The VietnamVeterans Memorial has no suchmessage of honor and courage, but rather an atmosphere that causesvisitors to reflect on the conflict (Colliers 138-139). The only monument that is similar the Vietnam Veterans Memorial isthe memorial to Ulysses S.
Grant. It is located at the foot of thecapital and has no clear cut meaning. There is no political messagethat can be taken away from Grant?s memorial. It neither glorifies warnor possesses an antiwar message, and there is no moral lesson thatcan be taken away from this monument (Colliers 138). One of the greatthings about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is that it allows thepublic to form its own opinion of the conflict with out forcing apolitical message.
It is because of this ambiguity that the monumentis so unique. Unlike other monuments, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial can not be seenfrom a distance. One must commit to see it, and then walk down to it. This is just the opposite of other monuments such as the LincolnMemorial and the Jefferson Memorial which were created to show the menon a higher God-like platform.
Also, it is not at all uncommon to findmen and women alike weeping at the base of the monument (Colliers138-139) Cynics could argue and say they morn only for their lovedones, and were not moved by the power of the monument, but this is notalways the case. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an experience thataffects thousands of people daily, and changes the lives of almost asmany. This is a characteristic that no other war monument in thecountry seems to posses. The first inscription on the wall reads ?IN HONOR OF THE MEN ANDWOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES WHO SERVED IN THEVIETNAM WAR.
THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES AND OF THOSE WHOREMAIN MISSING ARE INSCRIBED IN THE ORDER THEY WERE TAKEN FROM US?. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is also unique in the sense that ishonors all who fought, as most monuments honor only those who died. >From this one could imply that the veterans were not sufficientlyhonored by the people of America. (Colliers 139-140)It is clear that the erection of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was awonderful addition to the Washington Mall of monuments. There is somedisagreement as to the exact meaning of the monument, but that isbecause in was designed for that very purpose.
Maya Lin was quoted tosay that she wanted a ?quiet place, meant for personal reflection andprivate reckoning? (Colliers 139) That was exactly what she gave tothe country in her unique interpretation of what the monument shouldbe.