"The Black Gash of Shame" 25 years later

Sniffles's picture

25 years ago yesterday, November 11, 1982, the Vietnam Wall opened on the Mall in Washington D.C.

I remember the furor that arose when Maya Lin's design was selected back in 1981. Conservative groups were outraged, calling her masterpiece "the black ditch" and "the black gash of shame"...and those were just the names that could be printed in a family newspaper.

Conservatives whined and politicked for, and got, a traditional bronze statue, which thankfully is placed far away from the true memorial (and is virtually ignored). Another plan by then-secretary of the interior James Watt to place American flags in a line atop the memorial (not unlike a Riverdale used car dealership) was ultimately discarded.

Nowadays, of course, the Vietnam Wall is a cultural icon. It is immensely moving to see it in person (I have visited to pay my respects twice, once when it opened and once when the kids were old enough). I choke up each time I see the heartfelt displays left at the wall.

This picture sums it best:

Sniffles's blog | login to post comments