The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited sites in
Washington. Only a five-minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial, it is a stirring memorial
to the almost 60-thousand soldiers who died in the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a black granite wall
inscribed with the names of 58,191 soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. As visitors look
over the names etched into the monument, the mirror-like surface of the smooth granite
reflects the sky, trees and visitors themselves. If one places their ear upon the monument
and looks toward the Washington Monument, the reflected images of the obelisk form a star.
Maya Ying Lin, a 21-year old Yale student at the time, submitted her design for
the monument in a 1981 competition. Her winning design received mixed reviews upon its
unveiling in 1982, but is now generally lauded. A statue of three soldiers by Fredrick
Hart was added later to complete the memorial.
Directories are available to locate names inscribed on the wall.
Families and friends can trace the name of the deceased and leave tributes. The National
Park Service collects these offerings and stores them in a warehouse in Virginia to one
day be its own exhibit.