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3 To See Admire On See DC Tours! By Cassie, See DC Tour Guide

The historical sites in Washington DC are stunning, inspiring, and magnificent. There are SO many great memorials, monuments, and statues to see but I'd like to focus on three, and hope you'll consider a very close look here to ponder the symbols and meaning behind the artistry....

The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, The Three Soldiers, and The Three Nurses

The Wall

The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial design contest, held in 1981, was won by 21-year-old Maya Lin, a student majoring in design and art at Yale University. Her application was chosen over 1,422 other applications. This Memorial, nicknamed "The Wall," has become a well visited Washington DC tourist destination.

The stone on the wall is midnight black, mirror like, with an infinite seeming number of names of our casualties. The names of the fallen etched deeply into the stone include over 58,300 men and 8 women. They are all American war casualties and include 200 missing in action who are presumed dead. The floor is sunken into the ground, with the earth behind it. Symbolically, this is described by Lin as a "...wound that is closed and healing". The impressive stone with 144 panels was mined in Bangalore, India with one side of The Wall pointing purposefully towards the Washington Monument and the opposite side pointing directly towards the Lincoln Memorial. The names of our fallen are in chronological order and form a circle.

Jan Craig Scruggs, A United States army veteran, chaired and organized the committee to raise funds and hire a designer for the Memorial. Scruggs was wounded during the war, hospitalized for 3 months and suffered from PTSD after seeing 12 of his friends killed. He came up with the idea of a Memorial after seeing the movie about the Vietnam War "The Deer Hunter. " Both Maya Lin and Jan Scruggs attended the dedication on Veteran's Day in 1982.

It's noteworthy to mention that Maya Lin was the first female and minority to win a major design contest in Washington DC. The artists who judged the competition decided to use a blind jury, which meant that they numbered each art application and knew nothing about the gender, age, resume or background of each art applicant.

The Wall is surrounded by a park-like setting, including trees, views of The Mall and two additional statutes nearby. It has become a major pilgrimage.

The Three Service Members / Three Soldiers

Frederick Hart created a large bronze statue that was dedicated on Veterans Day, 1984. It features three young military men who may be White, African American, and Hispanic, who represent our multi-racial armed service members. The soldiers are in military uniform, and they appear to be sweating from the Vietnam rainforest heat. They gaze sadly toward The Wall and appear thoughtful and bereaved. They seem to be looking back, possibly, at the names of their friends who never returned home. One wears a dog tag around his neck, another wears a bullet vest, and the gun, and canteen on the third look perfectly authentic. Hart says, "...they are young. The contrast between the innocence of youth and the weapons of war underscores the poignancy of their sacrifice."

Vietnam Women's Memorial/ The Three Nurses

The Three Nurses Memorial statue was designed by Glenna Goodacre and was dedicated in 1993. This bronze statue depicts three nurses, all looking in an outward direction. The centerpiece features a nurse aiding an injured soldier. The soldier has an enormous bandage on his face and appears badly injured. Another nurse appears distraught and is looking downward as if praying or meditating. The third nurse looks skyward. Is she looking for the expected medivac? Or is she praying? Searching for answers? These women represent more than 265,000 women who served in Vietnam, many as nurses. There are eight trees surrounding the statue, representing eight nurses who died during the Vietnam War. Common nicknames for the nurses are Hope, Faith, and Charity. Some historians claim that the nurses were working in hospitals and that the medics would aid the injured initially. Even so, credit is needed for the vast numbers of men and women who served both on the front lines and behind the scenes, in my opinion.


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