“They will cry.”

n 1979, Congress grants a Vietnam War veterans’ committee the right to build a memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The committee puts the design out for competition convening a blue-ribbon panel of architects, sculptors, and landscape architects to evaluate more than 1,400 submissions. When the winner is announced, no one is more surprised than the student architect herself, Maya Lin, a 20-year-old Yale undergraduate. — PBS

The panel was moved by the simplicity, honesty, and power of Lin’s design: a V-shaped, sunken wall of black stone, with the names of those killed in action engraved in chronological order.

“I didn’t make a monument, I made a book and put it out for view. You don’t read a book the same way you read a billboard, you read one on one intimately. The name is the object so what left is you and the name.”  — Maya Lin, Architect and Artist: Talks at GS

“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.” Lin said.   – PBS

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is now the most visited monument in Washington, D.C. Over 10,000 people a day visit it. Among them are some skeptics, including hardened veterans, who often find themselves moved to tears.”  —The Art Story

Lin’s design was non-conventional and radical at that time.

In 2007, the American Institute of Architects ranked the memorial No. 10 on their list of America’s Favorite Architecture. However, the artist’s architectural design was controversial…   

When Lin first visited the proposed location for the memorial, she wrote, “I imagined taking a knife and cutting into the earth, opening it up, an initial violence and pain that in time would heal.”

When asked what people would do at the wall, Lin said with sincerity, “They will cry.”

Taking an amazing photo is not by accident, the photographer has to spent time researching and preparing, and be incredibly patient. Paulie’s photos in his ” A Morning Run in DC” are amazing. He described, “Morning light is fleeting, and realizing that I could lose the moment in seconds I sprinted the third of a mile to the west end of the pool.  Caught my breath and caught the image.” Take a look!

Submtting this post to Tina’s Lens Artists #40: Something Different.

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32 thoughts on ““They will cry.”

  1. From the very beginning I thought the design of this very special memorial was exceptional. I have one friend’s name on that wall, and it means a lot. This many years later it’s still a moving, tearful experience just reading the names! It’s fascinating to me that in its simplicity, it is profound. Thank you for sharing this, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Than you so much, Debra for spending time here. Yes… many years later it’s still a moving tearful experience, for me too, both visits.
      My pleasure, as always.

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  2. I hope one day people will understand that the true reason for these memorials is not only to remember those gone but also to remind us never to revisit the horrors of war that necessitated such moving memories. Thanks for sharing this, Amy.

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  3. A wonderful post Amy. Have been to the memorial and really think it’s very special Didn’t know the background story. Good for them for choosing someone so young and inexperienced. The memorial couldn’t be more perfect

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Tina. Lin had to comprise to accept the idea of having a statue, but strongly objected placing sculpture of three soldiers at the apex of the wall’s two sides; so the sculpture was placed away from the wall monument. “Her reaction to the storm reflected a combination of grace and toughness that belied her youth.” Paulie’s commented so well, so true.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. That is Something Different. As a VV myself, thank you for the informative reminder, ‘lest we forget’. A college fraternity brother, Patrick R Scully, is named on the wall. He announced to us in school he really believed in what the U.S. was doing over there and he would be going into the military service. He entered the Marines, went to OCS as I recall, and within 6 months of arriving in Vietnam he was shot and killed. I’m reminded of two elderly women I met at the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten, who pointed at the names of killed on the walls and said, to the effect, ‘they should have had lives to live, and children, and wives’. Indeed, lives lost so young. BTW, the nearby memorials are noteworthy also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Soldiers , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Women%27s_Memorial . (Speaking of urls, Maya Lin, Architect and Artist: Talks at GS does not work for me.) Thanks again for the great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, John for sharing these moving stories. We also visited the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, it’s very moving.
      I listened the Talks at GS a few times, I then think that Maya Lin might expressed it from an artist (as she always emphasizes) point of view.
      Appreciate you taking time to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A great post Amy. It recalls the troubling days of the Reagan Administration, in particular the Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, a particularly vile man who turned out to be, and how could we know it then, a harbinger of what we currently experience.
    From Watt and backers of third place designer Thomas Hart who came down with what was clearly a severe case of acute jealousy there was a contemptible and reprehensible reaction that in many instances didn’t bother to veil, even thinly, its racism.
    Her reaction to the storm reflected a combination of grace and toughness that belied her youth. A visit (and I’ve made two) to the wall is a moving, heart rending experience.
    And thank you for the ping back. I’m still trying to figure out how all this stuff works, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for you insightful view, Paulie. I agree, Lin’s reaction belied her youth, and she objected placing sculpture of three soldiers at the apex of the wall’s two sides. Both James Watt and Ross Perot made some hateful racism comments in spite of her father then was the former dean of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts and mother was a poet and taught literature at Ohio University…
      Thank you for letting me make a ping back. Your images are exquisite.

      Liked by 2 people

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