Society often builds memorials surrounding a tragedy to mankind, or an influence to be remembered. However, surrounding every memorial, there will be controversy and protest. However, memorials don’t always have to be a physical object, statue or piece of architecture. Facebook pages are set up in memory of people who are dearest to us, a photograph that is kept to constantly remind us, or a silent thought about a person who is no longer around. The Vietnam wall also has a virtual memorial in the form of a website, where you can search for the names of fallen soldiers, for those who don’t have the chance to see the wall in person.
The Vietnam Wall was designed by American architent Maya Lin, in 1982. It’s surface is covered by names of soldiers who fought in the Vietnamese War, as a homage to the brave fallen soldiers.
‘Two black granite walls, placed below grade, engraved in chronological order with the names of the men and women who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. At the apex where the two walls meet, the dates 1959 and 1973 (marking the beginning and end of the war) “meet” thus closing the circle of the time span of the war. A returning veteran can find his or her own time upon the wall, making each one’s experience of the memorial very personal and individual. The siting of the piece is directly related to the presence of both the Lincoln Monument and Washington Memorial, tying it physically and historically to the site.’ – Taken from [www.mayalin.com]
There was a lot of controversy when Lin was chosen as the architect, because she was a woman, but mostly because she was Asian. I think a lot of people were horrified that an Asian woman was building the memorial because it was American men that she was trying to honor. Her work was described as ‘a nihilistic slab on stone’ by Vietnam Veteran Jim Webb. I think attacks like this were made for a reason, and it wasn’t because they didn’t like the memorial. 30 years ago, women were viewed very differently, and were still viewed as being inferior to men. To me, a gender or a race shouldn’t devalue a human, their point still remains valid. Lin’s work wasn’t slandering the veterans, it was doing nothing but remembering their braveness and celebrating their lives that they gave.
The wall was designed so that as you walked along one wall, you came deeper and deeper into the sense of loss that occurred during the war, with overpowering sadness and emotion, until you hit the center. Then, as you walk up along the other wall, you arise from the loss and begin the journey into the life that we live in today.
MÉMORIAL DES MARTYRS DE LA DÉPORTATION- The memorial to the martyrs of the deportation.
This is a memorial that I’ve actually had the opportunity to go and see in person, although when I was 15 I didn’t really understand what it was I was truly looking at. This memorial is in memory of 20,000 French people who were deported from the French town of Vichy, to Nazi concentration camps. Each person is represented by a single crystal, lit up by luminous rods. This memorial was designed by G.H. Pingusson and opened in 1962. Every detail was meticulously thought of, from the narrow, dark corridor you enter into, to the the light at the end of the memorial. He wanted to recreate the feeling that those 200,000 deportees (as well as the millions others that lost their lives in concentration camps) of being able to see the outside, hear the birds singing and see the blue sky, but being unable to escape and experience freedom. This memorial is minimal on information, and relies solely on the experience you feel whilst your inside there, to truly understand how the prisoners of war felt. I think this is why the memorial is so inexplicably peaceful and overwhelming, as you aren’t being told how other people felt, you’re being left to think and feel it all for yourself. The light at the end of the memorial is a visual representative of how the prisoners never lost sight of hope, and kept on fighting through just in the hopes of seeing the outside world again.