The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, located in the National Mall in Washington DC, spreads over 3 acres of land and has all the names of people who served and died or went missing in the Vietnam War. Jan Scruggs founded “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial”, which is its official name, in 1979, when The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was set up to help fund the memorial. Several US Senators who helped set up the memorial supported the VVMF and saw its importance, which led to Carter signing the legislation in 1980. The wall’s intention was for people to not think about the war itself but solely about the people’s names written on the wall. Therefore the wall itself has not become something that has been criticized, however the location and meaning of the memorial do show some controversies.
The National Mall in Washington has always been the pride of America; its purposes are to provide a symbolic setting of governmental structures, to create a historic landscape with memorials, museums and national treasures. The sheer length and size of the Veteran Memorial Wall, which has names written on it inch by inch makes the memorial shocking rather than something to be proud of. However, one of the official purposes of the National Mall states “Maintain National Mall commemorative works (memorials, monuments, statues, sites, gardens) that honor presidential legacies, distinguished public figures, ideas, events, and military and civilian sacrifices and contributions”. The Vietnam War could not be stated as the result of a honourable presidential legacy, many mistakes by different leaders were made previously to the war, and the war did not result into any advantages towards the country or its economy. The memorial has a flagpole, which states: THIS FLAG REPRESENTS THE SERVICE RENDERED TO OUR COUNTRY BY THE VETERANS OF THE VIETNAM WAR. THE FLAG AFFIRMS THE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM FOR WHICH THEY FOUGHT AND THEIR PRIDE IN HAVING SERVED UNDER DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES. Civilian sacrifices were definitely made during the war, but mostly not by choice, men did not have the choice to serve, if they did not want to they would have to serve time in prison. The meaning of the National Mall and the meaning of the casualties during the Vietnam War are not the same, but the memorial has still managed to get 3 acres of the National Mall. The casualties are hereby put in a more favorable position for the American Government, having created the image of proud and honorable deaths, when in fact America lost more men than it could afford. The fight for freedom has been and still is one of America’s most important missions, and almost every war, in whatever way they are fought, has had the same underlying reason. The wall has been referred to as an image of “a black gash of shame”, for the fact that it shows how many of America’s own men it takes to fight for freedom. In conclusion, the placing of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in the National Mall is the controversial side of the Memorial, as it is not something to be proud of, however has been treated more so because of it.