Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial, located in Washington, D.C., was built in 1982, designed by Maya Lin. It consists of two black granite walls with the names of all U.S. service people who were killed or missing in action during that war inscribed into the granite.

After the Memorial was completed, the national parks service noticed that visitors would often bring to the wall, and leave by the name of the person they had lost, a small gift, token, or item of respect. Flowers. Flags. Sometimes hand-written notes, a child's stuffed animal. At first the national parks employees thought these were all accidentally left behind. But soon they realized that in some strange way, not necessarily rational, people were actually bringing things to give to the dead people, or leaving notes to communicate with those who had died.

Once the national parks people realized the significance of what was being left, they began collecting the items and some of them are now on display at the American History section of the Smithsonian museum.

50,000 Americans and 2.0 million Vietnamese died in the U.S. War on Vietnam.

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