Vietnam Veterans Memorial, war memorial in Washington, D.C., built 1982. Designed by the American sculptor and architect Maya Ying Lin, it is a sloping, V-shaped, 493-ft (150-m) wall of highly polished black granite that descends 10 feet (3.05 meters) below grade level at its vertex. Often called simply "The Wall," it is inscribed with the names of the more than 58,000 Americans killed or missing during the Vietnam War. The austere, abstract nature of Lin's design, which was selected after a nationwide competition, at first made it a controversial way of memorializing the war's casualties. In the years since its construction, however, the simple, evocative, and starkly dramatic wall has become a national shrine, drawing more annual visitors than the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. Two nearby sculptures also honor those who served in the war; one is of three soldiers by Frederick E. Hart (erected 1984), the other of three nurses and a wounded soldier by Glenna Goodacre (erected 1993).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.