American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

previous objectback to exhibit casenext object

Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans Memorial proposal
Maya Ying Lin (b. 1959)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial proposal
Mixed media on paper on board, 1981
Prints & Photographs Division

Perspective Drawing,Vietnam Memorial

Perspective drawing, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Perspective drawing, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Paul Stevenson Oles
Perspective drawings, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [June 15, 1981]
Charcoal and Prismacolor pencil drawings
on rag board
Prints & Photographs Division
Transfer from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, 1984 (82.7a-c)
[Digital ID#s ppmsca-05607, ppmsca-05608, ppmsca-05609]

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them"

-- Laurence Binyon "For the Fallen"

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, originally designed as a student project by Maya Lin at Yale University's School of Architecture in 1981, has become a profound symbol that has served to unify and reconcile a nation sorely divided by a foreign entanglement. Lin envisioned a black granite wall, in the shape of a V, on which the names of the American military dead and missing would be inscribed. The architect hoped that "these names, seemingly infinite in number, [would] convey the sense of overwhelming numbers, while unifying these individuals into a whole."

Since its unveiling in 1982, the work--popularly known as "the wall"--has become a point of reference, inspiring a new generation of American memorials. Maya Lin's drawing is one of 1,421 design-competition submissions documented in the Library of Congress as part of the Papers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Architect/artist Paul Stevenson Oles recalled about his role in the initial phase of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: “. . . shortly after we had learned our entry had not been selected as the winner, I received a frantic telephone call . . . from the competition’s Professional Advisor Paul Sprieregen, informing me that the drawings of the winner’s original submission were so vague—beautiful, indeed, but highly ambiguous. . . . He asked me if I could produce, say, three drawings for the purpose of explaining Maya Lin’s design, in a hurry . . . In those heady hours, Maya asked, shyly, if “she could be included in the picture.” I agreed, conditionally, if she would be willing to appear on the arm of the illustrator (center drawing).”

previous objectback to exhibit casenext object

Library of Congress
Contact Us ( July 27, 2010 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer