Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Overview
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national memorial in Washington, D.C. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 who fought in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those service members who were unaccounted for (Missing In Action) during the War.

Its construction and related issues have been the source of controversies, some of which have resulted in additions to the memorial complex.
Encyclopedia
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national memorial in Washington, D.C. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 who fought in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those service members who were unaccounted for (Missing In Action) during the War.

Its construction and related issues have been the source of controversies, some of which have resulted in additions to the memorial complex. The memorial currently consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldiers statue
The Three Soldiers
The Three Soldiers is a bronze statue, on the Washington, DC National Mall commemorating the Vietnam War. It was created and designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component to the Memorial.- Sculpture design and symbolism :This well-known sculpture by U.S...

, the Vietnam Women's Memorial
Vietnam Women's Memorial
The Vietnam Women's Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses. It serves as a reminder of the importance of women in the conflict. It depicts three uniformed women with a wounded soldier...

, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the best-known part of the memorial.

The main part of the memorial, which was completed in 1982, is in Constitution Gardens
Constitution Gardens
Constitution Gardens is a park area in Washington, D.C., United States, located within the boundaries of the National Mall. The park is bounded on the west by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on the east by 17th St NW, on the north by Constitution Avenue, and on the south by the Reflecting Pool...

 adjacent to the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

, just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

. The memorial is maintained by the U.S. National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

, and receives around 3 million visitors each year. The Memorial Wall was designed by U.S. architect Maya Lin
Maya Lin
Maya Ying Lin is an American artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She is the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Personal life:...

. The typesetting of the original 58,195 names on the wall was performed by Datalantic
Datalantic
Datalantic was an electronic typesetting company originally located in Atlanta, Georgia. The company relocated to Stuart, Florida some time after 1983. The company was sold in 1992 at which time it effectively ceased to exist. The company played a role in two important facets of American history...

 in Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, Georgia. In 2007, it was ranked tenth on the "List of America's Favorite Architecture" by the American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

.

History

  • April 30, 1975 – The Fall of Saigon
    Fall of Saigon
    The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

    .
  • April 27, 1979 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. , was a non-profit organization established on April 27, 1979, by Jan Scruggs, Jack Wheeler, and several other Vietnam War veterans, finance the construction of a memorial to those Americans who died or were killed during the Vietnam War. The memorial was...

    , Inc. (VVMF), was incorporated as a non-profit organization to establish a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War. Much of the impetus behind the formation of the fund came from a wounded Vietnam veteran, Jan Scruggs
    Jan Scruggs
    Jan Scruggs is best known for being the founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Scruggs served as a corporal in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, and upon completion of his service attended American University in Washington, D.C where he obtained a master's degree in counseling...

    , who was inspired by the film The Deer Hunter
    The Deer Hunter
    The Deer Hunter is a 1978 drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steel worker friends and their infantry service in the Vietnam War. The film stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Savage, John Cazale, and George Dzundza...

    . Eventually, $8.4 million was raised by private donations.
  • July 1, 1980 – Congress
    United States Congress
    The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

     authorizes 3 acres (12,140.6 m²) near the Lincoln Memorial
    Lincoln Memorial
    The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

     for the site. The "temporary" Munitions Building, built for War Department offices during World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

     and finally razed in 1965, formerly occupied the site. The memorial is to be managed by the National Park Service
    National Park Service
    The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

     under its National Mall and Memorial Parks
    National Mall and Memorial Parks
    National Mall and Memorial Parks is an administrative unit of the National Park Service encompassing many national memorials and other areas in Washington, D.C...

     group. A design competition is announced.
  • December 29, 1980 – 2,573 register for design competition with a prize of $50,000.
  • March 31, 1981 – 1,421 designs submitted. The designs are displayed at an airport hangar at Andrews Air Force Base
    Andrews Air Force Base
    Joint Base Andrews is a United States military facility located in Prince George's County, Maryland. The facility is under the jurisdiction of the United States Air Force 11th Wing, Air Force District of Washington ....

     for the selection committee, in rows covering more than 35000 square feet (3,251.6 m²) of floor space. Each entry was identified by number only, to preserve the anonymity of their authors. All entries were examined by each juror; the entries were narrowed down to 232, finally 39. The jury selected entry number 1026.
  • May 6, 1981 – A jury of eight architects and sculptors (Harry Weese
    Harry Weese
    Harry Mohr Weese was an American architect, born in Evanston, Illinois in the Chicago suburbs, who had an important role in 20th century modernism and historic preservation...

    , Richard Hunt
    Richard Hunt (sculptor)
    Richard Hunt is an internationally renowned sculptor.He was born in 1935 on Chicago's South Side. From an early age he was interested in the arts, as his mother was an artist. As a young boy, Hunt began to show enthusiasm and talent in artistic disciplines such as drawing and painting, and also...

    , Garret Eckbo, Costantino Nivola
    Costantino Nivola
    Costantino Nivola was an Italian sculptor. He is the grandfather of actor Alessandro Nivola.- Birth and upbringing :...

    , James Rosati
    James Rosati
    James Rosati was an American abstract sculptor.Born in Pennsylvania, Rosati moved to New York in 1944, where he befriended fellow sculptor Philip Pavia. He was a charter member of the Eighth Street Club and the New York School of abstract expressionists...

    , Grady Clay
    Grady Clay
    Grady Clay is an American journalist specializing in landscape architecture and urban planning.Clay is an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and was editor of Landscape Architecture Magazine from 1960 to 1985...

    , Hideo Sasaki
    Hideo Sasaki
    Sasaki Hideo was an influential American landscape architect.-Biography:Sasaki Hideo was born in Reedley, California, on 25 November 1919. He grew up working on his family's California truck farm, and harvesting crops on Arizona farms. He began his college studies at the University of California,...

    , Pietro Belluschi
    Pietro Belluschi
    Pietro Belluschi was an American architect, a leader of the Modern Movement in architecture, and was responsible for the design of over one thousand buildings....

    , working with architectural advisor Paul Spreiregen) unanimously selected a design by Maya Ying Lin, a 21-year-old Yale University
    Yale University
    Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

     architecture student from Athens, Ohio
    Athens, Ohio
    Athens is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Athens County, Ohio, United States. It is located along the Hocking River in the southeastern part of Ohio. A historic college town, Athens is home to Ohio University and is the principal city of the Athens, Ohio Micropolitan Statistical Area. ...

    , as the winner from 1,421 entries.
  • January 1982 – The Three Soldiers
    The Three Soldiers
    The Three Soldiers is a bronze statue, on the Washington, DC National Mall commemorating the Vietnam War. It was created and designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component to the Memorial.- Sculpture design and symbolism :This well-known sculpture by U.S...

     was added to the design as a result of controversy over Lin's design.
  • March 11, 1982 – The design is formally approved.
  • March 26, 1982 – Ground is formally broken.
  • October 13, 1982 – The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approves erection of a flagpole to be grouped with sculptures.
  • November 13, 1982 – Memorial dedication after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans. As a National Memorial
    National Memorial
    National Memorial is a designation in the United States for a protected area that memorializes a historic person or event. National memorials are authorized by the United States Congress...

     it was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places
    National Register of Historic Places
    The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

     the same day.
  • November 1984 – The Three Soldiers
    The Three Soldiers
    The Three Soldiers is a bronze statue, on the Washington, DC National Mall commemorating the Vietnam War. It was created and designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component to the Memorial.- Sculpture design and symbolism :This well-known sculpture by U.S...

     statue is dedicated.
  • November 11, 1993 – Vietnam Women's Memorial
    Vietnam Women's Memorial
    The Vietnam Women's Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses. It serves as a reminder of the importance of women in the conflict. It depicts three uniformed women with a wounded soldier...

     is dedicated.
  • 1994 – The Pentagon, instead of adding two unidentified bodies of Vietnam veterans to the Tomb of the Unknowns
    Tomb of the Unknowns
    The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. It is located in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States...

    , recommended that a display of medals be added behind the tomb with a plaque reading: "Let all know that the United States of America pays tribute to the members of the Armed Forces who answered their country's call." A Veterans Affairs subcommittee later changed the statement to read: "Let all know that the United States of America pays tribute to the members of the Armed Forces who served honorably in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam Era." Later, in 1998, Congress, prodded by the Vietnam-Era Caucus (composed of veteran Congressmen), discussed creating a "Vietnam Veterans Week" to honor the survivors of the war.
  • November 10, 2004 – Dedication of memorial plaque honoring veterans who died after the war as a direct result of injuries suffered in Vietnam, but who fall outside Department of Defense
    United States Department of Defense
    The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

     guidelines.
  • May 4, 2010 - Six names were added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during a ceremony. The new names are veterans who died after the war as a direct result of injuries suffered in the combat zone. (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=59020)

Structure

Memorial Wall

The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Lin
Maya Lin
Maya Ying Lin is an American artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She is the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Personal life:...

, is made up of two gabbro
Gabbro
Gabbro refers to a large group of dark, coarse-grained, intrusive mafic igneous rocks chemically equivalent to basalt. The rocks are plutonic, formed when molten magma is trapped beneath the Earth's surface and cools into a crystalline mass....

 walls 246 feet 9 inches (75 m) long. The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them. At the highest tip (the apex where they meet), they are 10.1 feet (3 m) high, and they taper to a height of eight inches (20 cm) at their extremities. Stone for the wall came from Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

, Karnataka, India, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality. Stone cutting and fabrication was done in Barre, Vermont
Barre (town), Vermont
Barre is a town in Washington County, Vermont, United States. The population was 7,924 at the 2010 census. Barre town almost completely surrounds Barre city, which is incorporated separately from the town of Barre.-Geography:...

. Stones were then shipped to Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

 where the names were etched. The etching was completed using a photoemulsion and sandblasting process. The negatives used in the process are in storage at the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

. When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together. One wall points toward the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

, the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

, meeting at an angle of 125° 12′. Each wall has 72 panels, 70 listing names (numbered 1E through 70E and 70W through 1W) and 2 very small blank panels at the extremities. There is a pathway along the base of the Wall, where visitors may walk, read the names, make a pencil rubbing of a particular name, or pray.

Inscribed on the walls with the Optima
Optima
Optima is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf between 1952 and 1955 for the D. Stempel AG foundry, Frankfurt, Germany.-Characteristics:...

 typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

 are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed in 1982. They are listed in chronological order, starting at the apex on panel 1E in 1959 (although it was later discovered that the first casualties were military advisers who were killed by artillery fire in 1957), moving day by day to the end of the eastern wall at panel 70E, which ends on May 25, 1968, starting again at panel 70W at the end of the western wall which completes the list for May 25, 1968, and returning to the apex at panel 1W in 1975. Symbolically, this is described as a "wound that is closed and healing." Information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given. The wall listed 58,191 names when it was completed in 1983; , there are 58,272 names, including 8 women. Approximately 1,200 of these are listed as missing (MIA
Missing in action
Missing in action is a casualty Category assigned under the Status of Missing to armed services personnel who are reported missing during active service. They may have been killed, wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted. If deceased, neither their remains nor grave can be positively...

s, POWs, and others), denoted with a cross; the confirmed dead are marked with a diamond. If the missing return alive, the cross is circumscribed by a circle (although this has never occurred ); if their death is confirmed, a diamond is superimposed over the cross. According to the Vietnam Veteran
Vietnam veteran
Vietnam veteran is a phrase used to describe someone who served in the armed forces of participating countries during the Vietnam War.The term has been used to describe veterans who were in the armed forces of South Vietnam, the United States armed forces, and countries allied to them, whether or...

s Memorial Fund, "there is no definitive answer to exactly how many, but there could be as many as 38 names of personnel who survived, but through clerical errors, were added to the list of fatalities provided by the Department of Defense." Directories are located on nearby podiums so that visitors may locate specific names.

Beginning and ending timeline for those listed on the wall

  • November 1, 1955 – Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

     deploys Military Assistance Advisory Group
    Military Assistance Advisory Group
    Military Assistance Advisory Group is a designation for American military advisers sent to assist in the training of conventional armed forces of Third World countries. Before and during the Vietnam War, there were three of these groups operating in Southeast Asia...

     to train the South Vietnamese military units and secret police. However, the U.S. Department of Defense does not recognize such date since the men were supposedly only training the Vietnamese. The officially recognized date is the formation of the Military Assistance Command Viet-Nam, better known as MACV. This marks the official beginning of American involvement in the war as recognized by the memorial.
  • June 8, 1956 – The first official death in Vietnam is U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Jr.
    Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Jr.
    Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Jr. was the first person to lose his life in the conflict that would later be known as the Vietnam War. He was killed by another U. S. airman. The United States Air Force Technical Sergeant died on June 8, 1956. Through the efforts of his sister, Alice Fitzgibbon Rose...

     of Stoneham, MA who was murdered by another U.S. airman.
  • July 8, 1959 – Charles Ovnand
    Charles Ovnand
    Master Sergeant Chester Melvin Ovnand was formerly listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as the second American killed in the Vietnam War....

     and Dale R. Buis
    Dale R. Buis
    U.S. Army Major Dale Richard Buis was formerly the first name listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.Buis originally hailed from Pender, Nebraska, and graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri. He was part of the Military Assistance Advisory Group sent in 1955 to train...

     are killed by guerrillas at Bien Hoa
    Bien Hoa
    Biên Hòa is a city in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, about east of Ho Chi Minh City , to which Bien Hoa is linked by Vietnam Highway 1.- Demographics :In 1989 the estimated population was over 300,000. In 2005, the population wss 541,495...

     while watching the film The Tattered Dress
    The Tattered Dress
    -Plot:In a California resort community, the wealthy Michael Reston is charged with the murder of a man he claimed attacked his wife, Charleen.Reston hires a high-priced lawyer, James Gordon Blane, a man known to do anything it takes to win a case. Blane makes few friends in the community because...

    . They are listed 1 and 2 at the wall's dedication. Ovnand's name is spelled on the memorial as "Ovnard," due to conflicting military records of his surname.
  • April 30, 1975 – Fall of Saigon
    Fall of Saigon
    The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

    . The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses May 7, 1975 as the official end date for the Vietnam era as defined by Title 38 U.S. Code Section 101.
  • May 15, 1975 – 18 Marines are killed on the last day of a rescue operation known as the Mayagüez incident
    Mayagüez incident
    The Mayaguez incident between the Khmer Rouge and the United States from May 12–15, 1975, was the last official battle of the Vietnam War. The names of the Americans killed, as well as those of three Marines who were left behind on the island of Koh Tang after the battle and who were subsequently...

     with troops from the Khmer Rouge
    Khmer Rouge
    The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

     in Cambodia. They are the last servicemen listed on the timeline.

The Three Soldiers


A short distance away from the wall is another Vietnam memorial, a bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 named The Three Soldiers (sometimes called The Three Servicemen). Negative reactions to Lin's design created a controversy; a compromise was reached by commissioning Frederick Hart
Frederick Hart (sculptor)
Frederick Elliott Hart was an American sculptor, best known for his public monuments and works of art in bronze, marble, and clear acrylic .-Biography:American master sculptor Frederick Hart is recognized for creating work that is at once traditional in its...

 (who had placed third in the original design competition) to produce a bronze figurative sculpture in the heroic tradition in order to complement the memorial wall. The statue was unveiled in 1984 and depicts three soldiers, purposefully identifiable as White American
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

, African American, and Hispanic American
Hispanic and Latino Americans
Hispanic or Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain, and in general all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.1990 Census of Population and Housing: A self-designated classification for people whose origins...

. The statue and the Wall appear to interact with each other, with the soldiers looking on in solemn tribute at the names of their fallen comrades. The distance between the two allows them to interact while minimizing the impact of the addition on Lin's design.

Women's Memorial

Also part of the memorial is the Vietnam Women's memorial. It is located a short distance south of the Wall, north of the Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool
thumb|275px|The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool seen from the [[Washington Monument]] in September 2007.thumb|275px|Ice covering the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool after the [[First North American blizzard of 2010]]....

. It was designed by Glenna Goodacre
Glenna Goodacre
Glenna Maxey Goodacre is a sculptor well known for having designed the obverse of the Sacagawea dollar that entered circulation in the United States in 2000...

 and dedicated on November 11, 1993, to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses. The woman looking up is named Hope, the woman praying is named Faith, and the woman tending to a wounded soldier is named Charity.

In Memory memorial plaque

A memorial plaque, authorized by , was dedicated on November 10, 2004, at the northeast corner of the plaza surrounding the Three Soldiers statue to honor veterans who died after the war as a direct result of injuries suffered in Vietnam, but who fall outside Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 guidelines. The plaque is a carved block of black granite, 3 foot (0.9144 m) by 2 foot (0.6096 m), inscribed "In memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice."

Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, founder of The Vietnam War In Memory Memorial Plaque Project, worked for years and struggled against opposition to have the In Memory Memorial Plaque completed. The organization was disbanded, but their web site is maintained by the Vietnam War Project at Texas Tech University.

Controversies

The Vietnam War was one of the longest and most controversial wars in United States history. A stated goal of the memorial fund was to avoid commentary on the war itself, serving solely as a memorial to those who served. Nevertheless, a number of controversies have surrounded the memorial.

Maya Lin

The design for the memorial was chosen from entries submitted in a national contest. As depicted in a documentary about Maya Ying Lin (Maya Ying Lin: A Strong Clear Vision), reactions to the chosen memorial design were intensely mixed. At the time of the contest, Lin was age 21 and a student of architecture at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

.

Opposition to design

The unconventionality of the selected design was very controversial, especially among veterans. Many publicly voiced their displeasure, calling the wall "a black gash of shame." Two prominent early supporters of the project, H. Ross Perot and James Webb
Jim Webb
James Henry "Jim" Webb, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Virginia. He is also an author and a former Secretary of the Navy. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

, withdrew their support once they saw the design. Said Webb, “I never in my wildest dreams imagined such a nihilistic slab of stone.” James Watt
James G. Watt
James Gaius Watt served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior for President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1983.-Early life and career:...

, Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

 under President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, initially refused to issue a building permit for the memorial due to the public outcry about the design.

Lin believes that if the competition had not been "blind", with designs submitted by number instead of name, she "never would have won". She received harassment after her ethnicity was revealed. Lin defended her design in front of the United States Congress, and eventually a compromise was reached. A bronze statue of a group of soldiers and an American flag was placed off to one side of the monument as a result.

Once the design was realized, the overwhelming majority of the design's critics came to appreciate the simple beauty and emotional power of the wall, and such controversy quickly evaporated. In the words of Scruggs, "It has become something of a shrine."

Women's memorial

The original winning entry of the Women's Memorial design contest was deemed unsuitable. Glenna Goodacre's entry received an honorable mention in the contest and she was asked to submit a modified maquette
Maquette
A maquette is a small scale model or rough draft of an unfinished architectural work or a sculpture...

 (design model). Goodacre's original design for the Women's Memorial statue included a standing figure of a nurse holding a Vietnamese baby, which although not intended as such, was deemed a political statement, and it was asked that this be removed. She replaced them with a figure of a kneeling woman holding an empty helmet.

The Moving Wall

Vietnam veteran John Devitt of Stockton, California, attended the 1982 dedication ceremonies of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Recognizing what he saw as the healing nature of the Wall, he vowed to make a transportable version of the Wall, a "Traveling Wall" so those who were not able to travel to Washington, D.C. would be able to see and touch the names of friends or loved ones in their own home town.

Using personal finances, Devitt founded Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd. With the help of friends, the half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, named The Moving Wall, was built and first put on display to the public in Tyler, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Tyler is a city in and the county seat of Smith County, Texas, in the United States. It takes its name from President John Tyler . The city had a population of 109,000 in 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau...

, in 1984.

The Moving Wall
The Moving Wall
The Moving Wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was devised by John Devitt after he attended the annual commemoration celebrated in Washington for Vietnam veterans. He felt that he needed to share his experience with those who did not have the...

 visits hundreds of small towns and cities throughout the U.S., staying five or six days at each site. Local arrangements for each visit are made months in advance by veterans' organizations and other civic groups. Thousands of people all over the US volunteered their time and money to help honor the fallen.

Desire for a hometown visit of The Moving Wall was so high that the waiting list became very long. Vietnam Combat Veterans built a second structure of The Moving Wall. A third structure was added in 1989. In 2001, one of the structures was retired due to wear.

By 2006, there had been more than 1000 hometown visits of The Moving Wall. The count of people who visited The Moving Wall at each display ranges from 5,000 to more than 50,000; the total estimate of visitors is in the tens of millions.

As the wall moves from town to town on interstates, it is often escorted by state troopers and up to thousands of local citizens on motorcycles. Many of these are Patriot Guard Riders, who consider escorting The Moving Wall to be a "special mission", which is coordinated on their website. As it passes towns, even when it is not planning a stop in those towns, local veterans organizations sometimes plan for local citizens to gather by the highway and across overpasses to wave flags and salute the Wall.

The Wall That Heals

The Wall That Heals is a traveling three-fifths size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial started in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. , was a non-profit organization established on April 27, 1979, by Jan Scruggs, Jack Wheeler, and several other Vietnam War veterans, finance the construction of a memorial to those Americans who died or were killed during the Vietnam War. The memorial was...

. A 53-foot tractor-trailer transports the 250-foot wall and converts to a museum at each stop, showing letters and other items left at the original wall, and more details about those whose names are shown. Lisa Gough of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund said that the exhibit goes to around 20 cities each year and traveled 33,534 miles in 2010. Organizations in each location pay $5,000 of the cost, with national sponsors paying the rest. Gough says seeing the wall is "emotional" for veterans and seeing it in the "comfort and security of their own hometown" can be helpful.

Wildwoods Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Located across Ocean Avenue from the Wildwoods Convention Center, New Jersey, the memorial was unveiled and dedicated on May 29, 2010. The memorial wall is a half-size granite replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the only permanent memorial in the Northeast, other than the Memorial in the National's Capital.

As a Memorial Genre

The first US memorial to an ongoing war
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial is a memorial to those American troops that have lost their lives in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The names on the memorial come from US DoD casualty records for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn...

 in Irvine
Irvine, California
Irvine is a suburban incorporated city in Orange County, California, United States. It is a planned city, mainly developed by the Irvine Company since the 1960s. Formally incorporated on December 28, 1971, the city has a population of 212,375 as of the 2010 census. However, the California...

, CA, is modelled on the Vietnam Veterans memorial in that it includes a chronological list of the dead engraved in dark granite. As the memorialized wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) have not concluded, the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial will be updated yearly. It has space for about 8000 names, of which 5,714 were engraved as of the Dedication of the Memorial on November 14, 2010.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection

Visitors to the memorial began leaving sentimental items at the memorial at its opening. One story claims that this practice began during construction, when a Vietnam veteran threw the Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

 his brother received posthumously into the concrete of the memorial's foundation. Several thousand items are left at the memorial each year.

Items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are collected by National Park Service employees and transferred to the NPS Museum and Resource Center, which catalogs and stores all items except perishable organic matter (such as live flowers) and unaltered US flags. The flags are redistributed through various channels.

The largest item left at the memorial was a sliding glass storm door with a full-size replica "tiger cage". The door was painted with a scene in Vietnam and the names of US POWs and MIAs from the conflict.

Other items in collection include a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with the license plate HERO, a plain brown teddy bear which was dressed by other unconnected visitors, a 6' abstract sculpture titled "After the Holocaust", and an experimental W. R. Case
W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of traditional pocketknives, fixed blades/sporting knives, limited edition commemoratives and collectibles. The company originated in Little Valley, New York around the turn of the 20th century before relocating to its current home,...

 "jungle survival knife" of which only 144 were made. It also contains the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 of Angelo Liteky
Angelo Liteky
-External links:* * from the San Francisco Chronicle* * Charles Liteky and three other veterans fast on the Capitol steps in protest of U.S. policy in Central America....

, who renounced it in 1986 by placing the medal at the memorial in an envelope addressed to then-President Ronald Reagan.

From 1992 to 2003, selected items from the collection were placed on exhibit, at the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

's National Museum of American History
National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Among the items on display are the original Star-Spangled Banner and Archie Bunker's...

 as "Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation".

Vandalism

There have been three known incidents of vandalism at the memorial wall in its 28-year existence.

The first occurred in 1988, when a swastika and various scratches were found etched in two of the panels. The panels were replaced.

In 1993, someone burned one of the directory stands at the entrance to the memorial.

On September 7, 2007, an oily substance was found by park rangers on the memorial's wall panels and paving stones. It was spread over an area of 50 to 60 feet (18.3 m). Memorial Fund founder Jan Scruggs deplored the scene, calling it an "act of vandalism on one of America's sacred places". The removal process took a few weeks to complete.

See also

  • Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Canberra
    Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Canberra
    The Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial is on ANZAC Parade, the principal ceremonial and memorial avenue in Canberra, the capital city of Australia...

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall-USA)
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall-USA)
    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an on-line Vietnam War memorial. It was started in 1996 by the veteran Alan Oskvarek who became disabled in the Vietnam War. It is now run by unpaid volunteers of the 4th Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment Manchu Association on a not-for-profit bases, and is...

    , an online memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans of America
    Vietnam Veterans of America
    Vietnam Veterans of America Inc. is a national non-profit corporation founded in 1978 in the United States that promotes the interests of United States military veterans of the Vietnam War era. It is funded without any contribution from any branch of government...

    , chartered by Congress and campaigns on issues important to Vietnam veterans
  • The Virtual Wall
    The Virtual Wall
    The Virtual Wall is an on-line Vietnam War memorial. The website opened on March 23, 1997 and is run by the not-for-profit organization, www.VirtualWall.org Ltd. The Virtual Wall has a separate memorial page for each casualty remembered...

    , an online memorial
  • The Wall That Heals
    The Wall That Heals (film)
    The Wall That Heals is a 1997 documentary film about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial narrated by Louis Gossett, Jr....

    , a 1997 film
  • s:Maya Lin's original competition submission for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
    Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
    The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial is a memorial to those American troops that have lost their lives in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The names on the memorial come from US DoD casualty records for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn...


Further reading

  • Ashabranner, Brent K., Always to Remember: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Putnam, New York 1989.
  • Ashabranner, Brent K., Their Names to Live: What the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Means to America, Twenty-first Century Press, Brookfield CT, 1998.
  • Berdahl, Daphne
    Daphne Berdahl
    Daphne Berdahl was an anthropologist known for her work on Eastern Germany and Post-socialist Europe...

    , "Voices at the Wall: Discourses of Self, History and National Identity at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," History & Memory: Studies in Representation of the Past 6 (Fall/Winter 1994), 88–124.
  • Blair, Carole, Jeppeson, Marsha S., and Pucci, Enrico Jr., "Public Memorializing in Postmodernity: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial as Prototype," Quarterly Journal of Speech 77 (August 1991), 263–288.
  • Capasso, Nicholas, The National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Context: Commemorative Public Art in America, 1960–1997, PhD Thesis, Rutgers University
    Rutgers University
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

    , 1998.
  • Carlson, A. Cheree, and Hocking, John E., "Strategies of Redemption at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Western Journal of Speech Communication 52 (September 1988), 203–215.
  • Carney, Lora S., "Not Telling Us What to Think: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Metaphor and Symbolic Activity Volume 8 Issue 3 (1993), 211–219.
  • Danto, Arthur
    Arthur Danto
    Arthur Coleman Danto Arthur Coleman Danto Arthur Coleman Danto (born January 1, 1924 is an American art critic, and professor of philosophy. He is best known as the influential, long-time art critic for The Nation and for his work in philosophical aesthetics and philosophy of history, though he...

    , "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," The Nation, August 31, 1985, 152–155.
  • Ellis, Caron S., "So Old Soldiers Don't Fade Away: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Journal of American Culture 15 (Summer 1992), 25–28.
  • Ehrenhaus, Peter, "Silence and Symbolic Expression," Communication Monographs 55 (March 1988), 41–57.
  • Foss, Sonja K, "Ambiguity as Persuasion: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Communication Quarterly 34 (Summer 1986), 326–340.
  • Friedman, Daniel S., "Public Things in the Modern City: Belated Notes on Tilted Arc and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," JAE: Journal of Architectural Education 49 (November 1995), 62–78.
  • Griswold, Charles L., "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall: Philosophical Thoughts on Political Iconography," Critical Inquiry 12 (Summer 1986), 688–719.
  • Haines, Harry, "'What Kind of War?': An Analysis of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Critical Studies in Mass Communucation 3 (1986), 1–20.
  • Hass, Kristin Ann. Carried to the Wall: American memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
  • Hess, Elizabeth, "Vietnam: Memorials of Misfortune," in Unwinding the Vietnam War: From War into Peace (Reese Williams, ed.), Real Comet Press, Seattle 1987, 261–270.
  • Hubbard, William, "A Meaning for Monuments," The Public Interest 74 (Winter 1984), 17–30.
  • Katakis, Michael, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Crown, New York 1988.
  • Lopes, Sal, The Wall: Images and Offerings from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collins, New York 1987.
  • McLeod, Mary, "The Battle for the Monument: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," in The Experimental Tradition (Helene Lipstadt, ed.), Rizzoli, New York 1989, 115–137.
  • Morrissey, Thomas F., Between the Lines: Photographs from the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse 2000.
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl
    Jeffrey Karl Ochsner
    Jeffrey Karl Ochsner is an architect, architectural historian, and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is known for his research and writing on American architects Henry Hobson Richardson and Lionel H. Pries, and on Seattle architecture.Ochsner graduated from Rice University...

    , “A Space of Loss: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.” JAE: Journal of Architectural Education 50 (February 1997), 156–171.
  • Palmer, Laura, Shrapnel in the Heart: Letters and Remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Random House, New York 1987.
  • Resnicoff, Arnold E., Dedication Prayer for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," in "The Treasury of American Prayer," James P. Moore, Jr., editor, Doubleday, 2009, pg. 317.
  • Scott, Grant F., "Meditations in Black: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Journal of American Culture 13 (Fall 1990), 37–40.
  • Scruggs, Jan C.
    Jan Scruggs
    Jan Scruggs is best known for being the founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Scruggs served as a corporal in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, and upon completion of his service attended American University in Washington, D.C where he obtained a master's degree in counseling...

    , and Swerdlow, Joel L., To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Harper & Row, New York 1985.
  • Sturken, Marita
    Marita Sturken
    Marita Sturken is a scholar, author, professor, and critic.Marita Sturken is Professor and Chair of the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, where she teaches courses on cultural studies, visual...

    , "The Wall, the Screen, and the Image: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Representations 35 (Summer 1991), 118–142.
  • Wagner-Pacific, Robin, & Schwartz, Barry, "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past." The American Journal of Sociology, 97 (1991), 376–420.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK