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The wall starts fairly small and low to the ground. It gets increasingly tall in the middle.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Closest available address
5 Henry Bacon Drive NW Washington, DC 20242
Open 24 hours a day
30 minutes or less
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
District of Columbia
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national memorial that honors members of the armed forces who served in the Vietnam War from 1959-1975. The memorial was built in 1982 and covers 2 acres. The main memorial wall is inscribed with the names of 58,272 Americans including 8 women who died in the war or are still missing. In addition to wall, the memorial includes is a statue of 3 soldiers, a flagpole and a statue to women who served in the war.
Jan Scruggs, a Vietnam veteran, proposed the memorial and believed it could help heal pain from the war. Over $8 million of private funds were raised and a competition for the design was held. Submissions had to include the names of the dead and missing, to be reflective, to be in accord with the environment and to be free of political statements. While the winning design by Maya Ying Lin was brilliant it was also controversial due to its solemnity and starkness. The more traditional soldier’s statue and flagpole were then added to address such concerns. The monument has achieved its primary purpose as a place of healing. It is now so venerated that travelling walls have toured the country to bring the experience to others and countless personal items have been left behind as tributes.
The memorial is very popular, especially on holidays and weekends. To better appreciate the wall, it’s worth seeing when less busy. A visit only takes a few minutes. Directories are provided to locate the names of specific individuals. Also a cell phone overview is available at 202-595-0093. Park rangers offer free guided tours generally every two hours from 10am-10pm. The ranger pointed out more notable aspects of the wall’s design as well as features of the nearby statutes but the tour was not especially interesting. A visit to the wall though is quite moving and should be on the agenda if you are checking out memorials in D.C. This memorial fits in well with a visit to the nearby Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Memorial.
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