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In America’s history, there have been times of multiple wars and multiple peace treaties being signed by courteous leaders. America was involved in multiple wars as well as conflicts. One of the most famous conflicts the country was dragged into was the Vietnam Conflict in the year of 1968. Many of our fearless military soldiers fought this dangerous and horrendous battle. Some of our warriors returned home while some died in battle or were never seen again. Americans today recognize these soldiers by viewing the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, which include the many names of those who dedicated their life for their country.
However, not everyone supported the memorial, and controversy began to sprout. Some citizens were offended while others did not understand the problem. The controversy of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial lead to debates that affected the perspective of every individual involved.
The controversy began in 1982 with the design by Maya Lin who was selected to create what is now a popular and a passionate attraction viewed by thousands of people today.
Maya Lin entered a design contest that was sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. She became the lucky winner of the contest, and from that moment, her design changed a part of America’s history. Instead of traditional materials such as limestone or marble, Lin decided to be unique, and she created a black granite wall in a V-shape including the names of the soldiers engraved on the mirror-like surface. Her goal was to honor the ones who served our country.
Sadly, the public, politicians, critics, and veterans were against the monument. They believed that it was not traditional and it lacked the resolution of the conflict. Some did not like the idea how it was black and wanted it to be a white wall. People bashed the wall with horrid comments such as calling it the “Black Gash of Shame,” and a “wailing wall.” even wondered why they picked an Asian-American designer. The article, “The Controversy” states that a Vietnam veteran by the name of Tom Carhart stated, ”One needs no artistic education to see this design for what it is, a black trench that scars the mall. Black walls, the universal color of shame and sorrow and degradation.” The protestors of the controversy brought attention to radio broadcaster Patrick Bunchanan along with Congressman Henry Hyde. Hyde called his Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, to force an ultimatum on Lin to change the design, or it would never be built at all. was more of a conflict than the actual Vietnam conflict itself.
The U.S. Commision of Fine Arts were contacted to make the final decision. Each member listened to those who were in favor of and against Lin’s design. Eventually, they created a compromise to keep the wall the way it was designed and have a statue of three men next to the United States flag. . In the article, “Vietnam Veterans Memorial: And The Winner Is…,” Lin explains that it was a miracle the monument was built. She also expresses that she no longer owns her design, but the monument is revealed to the public to reflect and enjoy. The monument was then dedicated on Veterans’ Day in 1982. Then in 1983, another memorial was added for the women who served in the conflict. Finally, the Three Fighting Men statue was added two years later to recognise the soldiers who returned home. Today, Americans can walk around the Vietnam Veterans’ memorial to see all three of the monuments and can reflect on the battle that was fought. People leave special offerings to the memorial such as dog tags, bracelets, military medals, photographs, and someone even offered their bike! These items are placed in the storage facility in Maryland to keep the belongings safe, while some of the artifacts are used for traveling exhibits. It is amazing knowing how a winning design can impact so many people!
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most heartfelt monuments I laid eyes upon during my trip to Washington D.C. As I walked up to the black wall, I gently touched and traced name. This made me think about what the monument was supposed to be about. Each soldier’s name on that wall had a reason to the Vietnam Conflict. Whether they were drafted or were already a member of the military, they each had a story along with a unique personality. The wall helps family members obtain closure to the loss of their loved ones. Visitors place wreaths of flowers, change, and even letters to that specific family member. The controversy of the memorial made me ponder the question, “What is wrong with being different?” The point of the memorial was to respect the fallen. People in the past wanted the memorial to be a soldier carrying a wounded soldier along with the flag of the United States. Today, the wall gives tourists a visual perspective of how many men and women died during the harsh conflict. What happened in Vietnam was a tragedy and those who got to come home were spat on, disrespected, and called “baby killers.” They were the ones who fought the Vietnam War, and some of the veterans witnessed the death of other soldiers. We do not always think about or remember our fearless warriors for what they believed in. This memorial is one of the best ways to recognize and respect those who have fallen.
The once known controversy that went from debates to compromises has not only affected every individuals’ perspective, but it has affected their hearts. Without the controversy that occurred in 1982, we would not be able to have such a unique way of giving thanks to our Vietnam Veterans. This memorial impacts every individual who visits each of the monuments. My experience with the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial has impacted my life by proud of our military, veterans, and country. It has changed my perspective on how it has affected our history. With the help of this monument, people can understand what it truly means to be a proud American.
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