Designer Maya Lin wanted to create a memorial that would “allow everyone to respond and remember.” She succeeded beautifully with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, two black granite walls etched with the names of the US soldiers who died in service in Vietnam or were still unaccounted for when the wall was constructed in 1982. There are over 58,000 names on the wall.
The wall draws a powerful emotional response from visitors. If visitors lost a loved one in the Vietnam War, they can find the name of their beloved on the wall and leave a note or gift by the name or take a rubbing. Rangers collect these offerings daily and place in them an archive. In addition to offering a place to grieve, the wall reminds all visitors of the tragic consequences of the Vietnam War for many Americans and their families.
Some felt the black wall was too impersonal, so two statues were added. The Three Soldiers is a bronze statue added in 1984 of three American soldiers who gaze solemnly at the names on the Wall. The Women’s Memorial, a 1993 addition, commemorates the contribution of women who served in the war. It is a statue that shows three women—one gazes skyward, one prays, and one tends to a wounded soldier.
If You Go
The memoral is located in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall—Northeast of the Lincolm Memorial.
This is a solemn memorial. Families and friends still come daily to grieve. Visitors should come prepared to experience the memorial in silence and respect.