Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The link above is to the website for The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a national memorial in Washington, DC. The memorial is dedicated to and honours the members of the US armed forces that fought in the Vietnam war, those who died and those who were lost during the war. The memorial consists of three separate parts, the Three Soldiers Statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the most well known part of the memorial. The wall was completed in late October and dedicated on November 13, 1982, ending a week long salute to the Veterans. The wall itself is in the Constitution Gardens, Northeast of the Lincoln Memorial, and is maintained by the US National Park Service. The wall was payed for by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, a non-profit charitable organisation, set up by a group of veterans. There is a total of 58, 272 names listed on the wall, including six which were added in 2010 and it is known that 1200 of these names were listed as missing in action.    

The website gives information about the memorial and answers many frequently asked questions, as well as having photographs, link to the names of the people, links to birthdays on the wall and a link to send out a message to people who lost someone in the war. It states that the names on the wall are listed in chronological order of when the people were listed as killed in action or missing in action, moving along day to day. As I have previously said, some names have been recently added to the wall and symbolically, this is described as a "wound that is closed and healing". It is also said that through the design of the wall, when a visitor looks at the wall, their reflection can be seen along with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolise bringing the past and present together.

Although the memorial wall was meant to be a tribute to the Vietnam Veterans, there was still controversy at the time it was in production. Some of the veterans didn't like the design of the wall, calling just a slab of stone. However, once made, the wall was appreciated for it's simple beauty and emotional power. The wall became so popular, but not everyone could travel to Washington, DC to visit the wall. So a moving wall was made two years later in 1984, it could visit hundreds of small towns and cities in the US so that Veterans across America could see it. To finish, I think this memorial is a simple, yet powerful way to honour those lost in the Vietnam war. It shows how in the 1980s, once the aftermath of the war had calmed down, the world could finally come together to honour those who fought in the war.      

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