Vietnam Veterans Memorial Research Paper

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in Washington, DC next to the National Mall, just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. As designed by Maya Lin, the Memorial consists of two black granite slabs bearing the names of those killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. At the time of its construction, Lin’s design was controversial, and there have been additions made to the overall site plan over the years. I have visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in person and also have some recollection of the controversy that occurred during its creation. My initial thoughts regarding the Memorial are that the design affords a place of peaceful reflection, and that the listing of names provides some small measure of permanence to these lost…show more content…
Many veterans had come home from the war feeling like the country had turned their backs on them. The Vietnam War lasted from November 1955 to April of 1975 when American forces withdrew and communist governments took power in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A total of 58, 220 US military casualties occurred during the Vietnam War .("Fatalities," n.d., p. 1) There was a massive loss of civilian life, as well as environmental destruction from the herbicide “Agent Orange” which also caused birth defects. This was the first war that people could see on television, providing insight to the horrors that were occurring. The resistance to the Vietnam War grew, and returning US military members found ambivalence or worse upon coming home. Jan Scruggs, a Vietnam veteran, campaigned to raise funds for a memorial and the US Congress announced a contest to design the memorial which would be located on government property at the site of a demolished World War I munitions…show more content…
(Lin, 2000, p. 3) This reflects post-modern concerns with emotions regarding grieving. Although some have since questioned the work, On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had general cultural acceptance in the 1970s. This work centered on the stages of grief with acceptance being the final stage. Lin’s empathy for the grieving informs her design by providing quiet space, allowing for tactile contact, and its inclusive list of names. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has proved its relevance to this day. Tears are still shed there, sentimental keepsake items continue to be left, and veterans still consider it a place to go to remember. Civilians without direct connection to the dead still visit and feel moved by the enormity of loss we feel as a nation for our lost soldiers. Whether one views the dead as war heroes or pawns lost in a futile government action, the loss is real and Lin’s eloquent design both honors the dead and provides

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