Vietnam War Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, is a national memorial established in Washington, D.C to honor U.S soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. The design of the war memorial was unanimously selected by an eight-man jury in May, 1981 from 1,421 entries, but was not established until November, 1982 following criticism of the initial design, which resulted into the addition of The Three Soldiers. The Three Soldiers, designed by sculptor Fredrick Hart, is the bronze statue intended to complement the Vietnam War Memorial and give it a traditional appearance. The Three Soldiers was finally established in 1984, following its approval in 1982. Although the Vietnam War memorial and The Three Soldiers satisfy different artistic appeals, critics would agree that both are artistic symbols meant to commemorate the Vietnam War.
Maya Lin designed the Memorial Wall such that the names of servicemen who either went missing in action or those who were killed in action could be inscribed on it. One thing that stands out from the Memorial Wall is the fact that the design is symbolic as it represents a wound that is closed and healing. However, the architect’s use of black colour without ornamentation was criticized by some quarters who termed the design as unconventional. Also, the architect did not have a symbolic indication of heroism in the original design. In order to accommodate criticism of the initial design, Fredrick Hart was commissioned to come up with a bronze sculpture depicting the heroic American tradition.
The Three Soldiers symbolically represents the U.S Marines, Army soldiers, and the weapons they used to fight in the Vietnam War. Through the sculpture, Fredrick Hart succeeded where Maya Lin had failed: to bring out the impassioned heroism characteristic of U.S servicemen. The Threes Soldiers also symbolizes representation of the major ethnic groups who served in the Vietnam War. Altogether, Maya Lin and Fredrick Hart succeed in creating an emotional commemoration of the Vietnam War; a feat befitting the fallen soldiers.
Gardner, Helen and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume 2. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.