Wartime typically gives rise to memorials that serve as vessels of remembrance of those who died. These memorials provide touchstones for families, friends, communities, and entire nations to grieve. As works of art, they offer a public space to honor and remember the lives and sacrifices of those who fought during the war. Read this text to see some examples.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is an example. Designed by the architect and sculptor Maya Lin, its abstract formal design, wedge shape, and placement created a new approach to traditional memorial design ideas. The work is set into an earthen embankment facing out to the viewer.

It is made of a dark gabbro stone that, when polished, produces a highly reflective surface. The names of 58,191 soldiers killed or missing during the conflict are cut into the stone face. Visitors walk a gently descending pathway toward the center of the memorial, the wall of names becoming larger as you go, to a height of ten feet in the middle. As they stare at the rows of names on the wall, visitors see their own images reflected back. The path rises as you walk toward the other end.

Maya Lin, 'The Vietnam Veterans Memorial', ariel view 1982, Washington, DC

Maya Lin, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, arial view, 1982. Washington, DC

Maya Lin, 'The Vietnam Veterans Memorial', detail, 1982, Washington, DC

Maya Lin, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1982. Washington, DC

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Source: Christopher Gildow,
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Last modified: Wednesday, February 14, 2024, 4:13 PM