The Digital Past

Final Project-text!

“I went to see the site. I had a general idea that I wanted to describe a journey…a journey that would make you experience death and where you’d have to be an observer, where you could never really fully be with the dead. It wasn’t going to be something that was going to say, ‘It’s all right, it’s all over,’ because it’s not”–Maya Lin, on the Vietnam Memorial design.
This website was designed to shed light some light on the controversies surrounding the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It primarily focuses on Maya Lin and the backlash she faced for design.
Why did Maya Lin’s design face so much opposition?
Before that question can be answered it is important to note the history behind the war in Vietnam. Conflict in the area started in the 1940’s but it wasn’t until 1954 that the war officially began. The war began after the Ho Chi Minh came into power as a part of the communist party. At the height of the war in 1969 the United States had more than 500,000 troops involved in the conflict. During this time, turmoil started to brew and a division among Americans starts to form. Many saw the war as unnecessary and viewed it as pointless bloodshed. Others viewed it as necessary step in order to stop communism.
Five years after the war ended the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund a non profit organization was authorized by Congress to build the memorial in Washington D.C. The goal of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund was to separate any of the preconceived notions or conflicts the war had ignited. Instead the organization wanted the memorial to focus on the service and sacrifice of the military men and women. They decided to hold an open competition, which was won by Maya Lin.
Maya Lin was launched into the public’s eye when she won the competition for the design of the new Vietnam Memorial in 1981. At the time she was only 21 years old and a senior at Yale University. The goal behind the design of the memorial was to let the names on the wall speak for themselves.  Many did not agree with this view and saw the wall as a sign of disrespect. The black granite set a somber tone, instead of a commemorative feeling that veterans were used. Moreover, a number of veterans felt this was just another distinction between the Vietnam War and past wars. Setting them to be outcasts of what many believed to be a failed war.
Though the design was under much scrutinize the Vietnam War veteran’s committee did not change the design. When the design opened in 1982 it was received with critical acclaim.
In 1984 the statue of the Three Servicemen was added along with a flag, which at its base has the different branches of the military. Later in 1993, the statue of the nurses aiding the soldier was added as well. This appeased many of the veteran’s that were opposed to the design. Now the wall is the most visited monument in Washington D.C. In all the design faced opposition, because the Vietnam War was a sensitive subject to begin, it can be assumed that the Vietnam War is one of the most controversial wars in the United States history. It was also the first televised war, making people personally connected to it since they saw it on their screens at home. Despite the controversy surrounding the design of the memorial, it is one the most visited monument it Washington D.C. Which can be considered a sign that people are viewing war differently now. The views have changed and people’s perspectives are more reflective now, which was Maya Lin’s goal with the design.

There is more text on the actual website, which can be viewed here . I would use firefox to view the website since the maps do not seem to work on Chrome.

Posted by on June 20th, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

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