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4/3/1982. The compromise.
“Vietnam Memorial; Monumental Doubts,” The Economist, 04/03/82: 56. "Ambivalence and embarrassment have dogged the memorial from the beginning. . . . Opinions about the Vietnam war are still so divided that it would be impossible to represent them in a single sculpture. . . . A compromise was agreed upon. . . . These additions are meant to relieve the memorial's ambiguity. They may, however, merely serve to emphasize it." [SFX]
4/5/1982. Construction begins.
“Vietnam Memorial Falls Into Place,” U.S. News & World Report, 04/05/82: 13. "Construction of the controversial Vietnam Veterans Memorial officially began March 26 when 120 veterans and dignitaries each turned a shovelful of dirt on Washington's Mall." [SFX]
6/17/1982. Design plans for the new sculpture by Frederick Hart are accepted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
7/2/1982. Frederick Hart will do the compromise statue.
"Sculptor Is Selected For Vietnam Statue," New York Times, 07/02/82: A12. "'I wish to create a sculpture which evokes the experience of Vietnam veterans and pays proper tribute to their faithful service,' said Frederick Hart . . . . 'The work will be figurative in style and humanist in substance.'" [SFX]
7/7/1982. Maya Lin kicks off the art controversy.
"Maya Lin's Angry Objections," by Rick Horowitz, Washington Post, 07/02/82:B1. Lin: "This farce has gone on too long . . . I have to clear my own conscience. . . . Past a certain point . . . it's not worth compromising. It becomes nothing -- even if it's a 250-foot-long nothing." Hart is "drawing mustaches on other people's portraits." The new sculpture will "make one feel watched. That's not a feeling I want. . . . It's going to feel like a golf green." [SFX]
7/8/1982. Or should it be called an art war?
"'Art War' Erupts Over Vietnam Veterans Memorial," by Isabel Wilkerson, Washington Post, 07/08/82:D3. Response to Maya Lin's "scathing criticism." Jan Scruggs: "We really fought for Maya's design . . . . It makes [the memorial] 100 percent better, much more beautiful." Architect and juror Henry Weese: "It's as if Michelangelo had the secretary of interior climb onto the scaffold and muck around with his work." Frederick Hart: "It's not Maya Lin's memorial nor Frederick Hart's memorial. It's a memorial to, for and about the Vietnam veterans to be erected by the American people -- in spite of what art wars occur." [SFX]
7/12/1982. Some public response to the art war.
"Decisions and Revisions: The Vietnam Memorial," letters to the editor, Washington Post, 07/12/82: A14. 1) "But most Vietnam veterans probably won't get mad about the memorial. They know that it's just a token. Too much has happened for that memorial to ever be the principal object of anger." 2) "Miss Lin's work is a noble design. . . . It is the spirit of that memorial to honor and mourn the dead. It is the spirit of the debased design, mandated by Secretary Watt, to glorify war." 3) "Instead of a daringly simple memorial to honor those who served, which is intended to inspire peaceful contemplation . . . a statue and poor Old Glory are, once again, demanded, on center, to shout: 'Our country, right or wrong.' Why?" [SFX]
7/15/1982. Vietnam Requiem video -- a documentary about Vietnam veterans imprisoned for violent crimes -- airs on national television.
"TV: Vietnam Veterans, U.S. Crimes and Prison," by John J. O'Connor, New York Times, 07/15/82: C22. "But the hearts and minds of the producers would seem to endorse the comment of one of the veterans: 'I consented to do this interview hoping that they'll keep us the hell out of another Vietnam.'" [SFX]
"'Requiem': The Prisoners of War," by Tom Shales, Washington Post, 07/15/82: D13. "The editorial flaws in this program are so basic that it becomes almost a textbook case in muffing a great opportunity . . . . But the precise link between combat duty in Vietnam and the fate of these five men is never clearly established." [SFX]
7/17/1982. More public response.
"Vietnam Memorial: Drawing the Line," letters to the editor, Washington Post, 07/17/82: A22. 1) "One wonders, however, if the existing gauntlet of such authorities in Washington -- numerous and often uncoordinated -- has not created a mechanism for transforming good designs into mediocre ones." 2) Lin's design is "bold and courageous. And, after all, it did win the competition." 3) "As a vietnam veteran, I am angry . . . . the controversy . . . is a memorial to the indecision, political meddling and lack of principle and conviction that marked the war." 4) "The group of conservative critics that Interior Secretary James Watt would satisfy with changes in the Vietnam memorial are the very same people who extend a policy of non-support toward the living veteran of that conflict." 5) "If something must be added, then let it be something natural, such as a weeping-willow grove." 6) "The overall design decribed by Miss Lin . . . actually appears more like a great privy, and outside urinal of German beer garden design." [SFX]
"Monumental Problems Building Memorials in the Nation's Capital," by Benjamin Forgey, Washington Post, 07/17/82: C1. "Either by intention of their designers or as a result of political pressure, many of the major monuments in the city are compromises between the poles of the continuing debate." [SFX]
7/20/1982. A panel of the Wall is put up and shown as a kind of preview.
7/22/1982. A report on the unveiling of the wall.
"Memorial's First Names Unveiled," by Charles Fishman, Washington Post, 07/22/82: E3. "After the unveiling, the four families were escorted to the panel in turn and shown their relative's name. Each family member was handed a red rose, which was placed in a white vase at the foot of the gleaming, almost mirrored, granite slab." [SFX]
7/25/1982. Monumental neglect by the government.
"Misplaced Memorials," by Colman McCarthy, Washington Post, 07/25/82: H5. "When the veterans applied for the job-training courses and small-business loans and found they weren't there, the cynicism and despair increased. They'd been had once again. . . . Ronald Reagan had called the Vietnam war 'a noble cause,' and then let his appointees go about treating the veterans ignobly. These actions are also symbols that carry a message. They, not the memorial in Constitution Gardens, represent 'shame and dishonor.'" [SFX]
8/1982. The architects side with Lin.
"Vietnam Memorial Designers, AIA Strongly Denounce Alterations," Journal of American Institute of Architects, 71 (Aug 1982): 9-10. AIA president Robert M. Lawrence called the proposed changes "ill-conceived" and "a breach of faith." [SFX]
9/2/1982. Tom Carhart sends VVMF leaders a preliminary copy of his "Coming Out of the Shadows of Vietnam" article.
"I expect to submit this to a newspaper or two, unless I hear further objection/suggestion from V.V.M.F. -- let me hear, we're not doing things in the dark anymore." [PDF]
9/14/1982. Sample letter of invitation from VVMF's Robert Doubek to the first public unveiling of the Frederick Hart statue.
[PDF]
9/16/1982. VVMF: "Final Report of the Sculpture Panel to the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund."
"Like the brooding, thoughtful sculpture of President Lincoln which fills the interior of his memorial, Hart's sculpture adds an essential human element to the exisitng design. . . . The [flag] staff will be erected approximately forty feet behind the angle of the wall and approximately eighteen feet west of a line that would bisect the angle." [PDF]
9/20/1982. Sculptor Frederick Hart unveils his statue. Statement by Hart.
"I see the Wall as a kind of ocean, a sea of sacrifice that is overwhelming and nearly incomprehensible in its sweep of names. I place these figures upon the shore of that sea, gazing upon it, standing vigil before it, reflecting the human face of it, the human heart. [PDF]
9/20/1982. Carhart accepts the compromise.
"Coming Out of the Shadows of Vietnam," by Tom Carhart, Washington Times, 09/20/82: 11A. "That is the compromise. While I still object personally to the black underground aspects, we Vietnam veterans on both sides of the issue have met and resolved our differences, and now we have once again closed ranks as brothers. And the statue that will be the centerpiece will strike this nation like a thunderbolt." [SFX]
9/21/1982. Response to Hart's statue.
"The Names," by James Kilpatrick, Washington Post, 09/21/82: A19. "We walked through the usual litter of a construction site, and gradually the long walls of the memorial came into view. Nothing I had heard or written had prepared me for the moment. I could not speak. I wept. There are the names. The names! . . . etched enduringly upon the sky." [SFX]
"Model of Washington's Vietnam Memorial Statue Is Unveiled," New York Times, 09/21/82: A22. [SFX]
"Hart's Vietnam Statue Unveiled," by Benjamin Forgey, Washington Post, 09/21/82: B1. "The contrast in style between Lin's abstract concept and Hart's sculpture could hardly be greater. Depicting three standing young soldiers (two white, one black) in battle dress, the sculpture is realistic, from open flak jackets to weapons to dog tags. In gesture and facial expression, especially, it is an impressive ensemble. The soldiers are portrayed at a telling moment, all the more intense because of its expectant ambiguity." [SFX]
9/22/1982. An anti-memorial.
"Vietnam: An Anti-Memorial," Washington Times, 09/22/82. "How could a single work of art transcend all the national ambivalence about the right and wrong of the war and also give due honor to those who, however reluctantly, gave it their lives? Certainly the facile bathos of those World War I monuments with angels bending over fallen Galahad types was not among the options. . . . Perhaps it is the best we can do with a national experience still so incompletely assimilated." [SFX]
9/23/1982. Robert Carter of VVMF sends plans for the sculpture and flag additions to Interior Secretary Watt.
"We hereby forward . . . design, plans, and specifications for the sculpture and flag staff . . . established to implement the agreement." [PDF]
9/23/1982. Interior Department memo on options for Watt for "resolving outstanding issues": "Vietnam Veterans Memorial Briefing."
Three options with pros and cons for each: "The final confrontation between the original design and the addition of the sculpture and the flagpole can be diffused if professional architectural and landscape concerns can be addressed at the CFA. The opponents of any addition to the original design lose vast credibility if other professionals testify that the additional elements are correct, if properly located." [PDF]
9/25/1982. Crediting the compromise.
"A Monument to Our Discomfort," by Ellen Goodman, Washington Post, 09/25/82: A25. "So, in the end, we have a political pastiche of heroism and loss, a trio of warriors larger than life, and a list of the dead. Instead of a resolution, we have an artistic collision of ideas, an uncomfortable collage of our Vietnam legacy. Maybe, just maybe, that's fitting." [SFX]
9/29/1982. Watt letter to Scruggs, approving the submitted plans.
"Based upon the commitments made in March 1982 and our review of your submission, I enthusiastically approve your latest submission. The addition of a heroic sculpture and our flag to the site will transform the design into one which honors both those who served our country and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We must not forget that our objective is to build a fitting monument to honor thousands of men and women who served their country in Vietnam. Design aesthetics are a secondary concern." [PDF]
9/29/1982. Another letter from Carter to Watt with more plans.
[PDF]
10/1982. Architects criticize the compromise.
"Proposed Viet Sculpture Shown as Architects Fight Additions," AIA Journal, October 1982: 22, 27. Quotes from critics of the compromise. For example, Lin: "The additions, which treat the original work of art as no more than an architectural backdrop, reflect an insensitivity to the design's subtle spatial eloquence." [SFX]
10/2/1982. Siding with Lin.
"In Defense of the Vietnam Memorial," by Joan Beck, Chicago Tribune, 10/02/82: 1: 8. There's no doubt that part of the opposition to the original concept stems from the identity of the designer. ('The biggest slap in the face,' one critic said.) . . . . Some veterans have publicly raged that not only has Maya Lin never seen war close, she was only 15 when the Vietnam fighting ended. Furthermore she first conceived her memorial as a class project at elitist Yale. She is (unbearably) a female. Even worse, her Chinese ancestry is obvious, even though she was born in Athens, Ohio." [SFX]
10/4/1982. Watt letter to J. Carter Brown, Chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, recommending their review.
"We will issue the necessary permits for a dedication of the memorial on November 11, 1982, if the design refinements are aproved in the interim." [PDF]
10/6/1982. Another Carhart letter to the editor indicating acceptance of the compromise.
"Veteran's memorial should not be mournful," by Tom Carhart, letter to the editor, Washington Times, 10/06/82. "But this is not a memorial to the dead; it is to all who served. This is not supposed to be a national mourning ground for Vietnam. Unfortunately, the listing of the names undicates otherwise, as does the black underground nature of the original design. We have spent over a year slugging this out, and we have finally reached a compromise. While I still dislike aspects of the design, I will no longer fight them. That's what compromise means. . . . This memorial is not intended to honor artists; it is intended to honor Vietnam veterans." [SFX]
10/6/1982. Letters to Scruggs by design competition judges Hideo Sasaki and Harry Weese in regard to the upcoming CFA meeting.
Sasaki: "Thus, it is not certain that the design by Ms. Maya Lin need be irrevocably compromised by the changes which may be required by technical, visual, or indeed, programmatic needs. As I understand it from verbal descriptions given to me, the proposed sculptural group by Mr. Hart is not part of the visual mass of the wall, but is placed at some distance and in opposition to it. Often works of other artists, if sensitively done, enhance the totality of a design. I hope this latter is true." Weese: "As a member of the jury and witness to the arduous process so well mounted . . . I view the adulteration of Maya Lin's design by any dissident group as arbitrary, capricious and destructive and the approval of such by any reviewing agency or authority irresponsible and beyond the pale of due process. Art is uncompromisable." [PDF]
10/7/1982. Against the compromise.
"Vietnam Memorial: Questions of Architecture," by Paul Goldberger, New York Times, 10/07/82: C25. "The insertion of statues and a flagpole not only destroys the abstract beauty of that mystical inside-outside kind of space that Maya Lin has created; it also tries to shift this memorial away from its focus on the dead, and toward a kind of literal interpretation of heroism and patriotism that ultimately treats the war dead in only the most simplistic of terms." [SFX]
10/10/1982. 60 Minutes television show airs "Lest We Forget" segment, with Morley Safer as host, on the eve of the CFA meeting.
Interviews with all the players: Lin, Scruggs, Perot, Reresentative Don Bailey, Carhart, Watt. "But instead of healing the wounds of Vietnam the memorial issue renewed the bitterness, bitterness no one anticipated back in 1980 when the ground was consecrated." [PDF]
10/12/1982. Carhart subordinates the artistic concerns.
"Poll Shows Most Viet-Vets Against Memorial Design," by Tom Carhart. Washington Times, 10/12/82. "If the Fine Arts Commission delays on approving the additions, or if the VVMF drags their feet in their implementation (years of direct assaults and other delaying tactics can be expected from the art community), then we will truly have been betrayed, and I don't think Vietnam veterans will stand for it." [SFX]
10/13/1982. Tom Wolfe leads anti-art charge.
"Art Disputes War: The Battle of the Vietnam Memorial," by Tom Wolfe, Washington Post, 10/13/82: B3. "This is the story of art experts and the Vietnam veterans -- and of how the veterans asked for a war memorial and wound up with an enormous pit they now refer to as a 'tribute to Jane Fonda' . . . . Shouldn't public sculpture delight the public or inspire the public or at least remind the public of cherished traditions? Nonsense. Why reinforce the bourgeoisie's pathetic illusions? . . . Veterans like Carhart and Webb were dumbfounded and then outraged. . . . Over the past two months art mullahs of every description have begun a holy war against the addition of the statue." [SFX]
"Last Chance for the Memorial," Washington Times, 10/13/82. "There is a discordance between the sophisticated wall and the unsophisticated statue. There is also disharmony between the nay-saying wall and the unequivocally proud flag. . . . And nothing has happened to make Maya Lin's creation look less like what it suggests to some veterans and some non-combatant citizens: 'an open grave.'" [SFX]
"Commission Considers Memorial Changes Today," Washington Post, 10/13/82: B1. "At the meeting today the commission can reject the changes altogether, approve them with conditions as to their form, content, size and placement, or approve them outright. Should the commission reject the additions, it would take congressional action to overrule its action." [SFX]
10/13/1982. Minutes of the Commission of Fine Arts meeting at which the location of the flag and statue is decided.
[PDF]
10/13/1982. Testimony at the Commission of Fine Arts meeting.
Witness list: [PDF]
Lead-off speakers and witness list: [PDF]
Lead-Off Speakers -- Wheeler (58), Webb (61), Hart (66), Cooper & Brown (67), Scruggs (84) [PDF]
Speaking for the Compromise Additions of Statue and Flag -- Witness List: [PDF]
Speaking for -- Hodel (86): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Bailey (92): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Holt (98): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Miller (101): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Ruph (104): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Hill (106): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Roberts (107) [PDF]
Speaking for -- Wilk (108): [PDF]
Speaking for -- McCarthy (111): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Messing (112): [PDF]
Speaking for -- DeChant (113): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Milne (117): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Powell (120): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Gallant (123): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Swartz (126): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Price (127): [PDF)]
Speaking for -- Hughes, Pauken, & Abell (132): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Copulos (134): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Carhart (138): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Davidson (141): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Brewer (143): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Lyle (145): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Williams, Dowling, & Detmold (147): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Santoli (149): [PDF]
Speaking for -- Weidman (150): [PDF]
Speaking against the Additions and for the Original Lin Design -- Witness List: [PDF]
Speaking against -- Lin (152): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Lawrence (155): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Spreiregen (164) [PDF]
Speaking against -- Arnold (176): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Von Eckardt (178): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Straight (180): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Brodniak & Connally (183): [PDF]
Speaking against -- Butera & Robin (185): [PDF]
Chairman Brown's Summation and Decision: [PDF]
10/14/1982. Reports on the CFA meeting and decision.
"Changes Set in Viet Memorial," by Irvin Molotsky, New York Times, 10/14/82, C17. "J. Carter Brown, chairman of the commission, suggested in his announcement of the decision that the panel would approve a location for the statue and flagpole near an entrance to the memorial site rather than adjacent to the two walls. Placing the additional sculpture too close to the memorial, he said, would detract from Miss Lin's original abstract design." [SFX]
"Vietnam Memorial Changes Clear Last Major Hurdle," by Benjamin Forgey, Washington Post, 10/14/82: A1. "The sculpture should not be allowed to 'shiver naked out there in the field,' said commission chairman J. Carter Brown. . . . Instead [the sculture and the flag will] be grouped in a different location to 'help enhance the entrance experience of the memorial." The reactions of Scruggs, Lin, Hart, Bailey, etc., to this "Solomon-like" decision are described. [SFX]
10/15/1982. Congressional letter to Watt expressing concern about the CFA decision
"We are strongly opposed to the Commission's demand that the location of these additions be changed to a place outside the memorial wall area. . . . we face the same problem with which we began. . . . we ask that the Department of Interior not grant a permit for dedication of the memorial until the positioning of the additions in conformance with the compromise agreement is resolved." [PDF]
10/16/1982. CFA chair Brown's decision and Carhart's feeling of betrayal.
"The Vietnam Memorial Decision: 'Part of the Healing,'" by J. Carter Brown, Washington Post, 10/16/82. "This is sacred soil, right next to our dearest and greatest patriotic memorials. The memorial's simply being on the Mall at that site is an extraordinary statement of this country's pride in the people who are being memorialized there. We want our descendants to have the same kind of pride in what was achieved there that we can have about our forebears who built the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The question comes down to the elements -- and their location. . . . our recommendation would be that these three elements, which threaten to be episodic and disjointed, be brought together to help enhance the entrance experience to the memorial." [SFX]
"Carhart: Veterans Betrayed," by Tom Carhart, Paterson Evening News (New Jersey), 10/16/82. "The only credible survey of the feelings of Vietnam veterans about the original sunken black wall design that exists is that conducted of former POWs by Gallup for Ross Perot, and maybe it's time to make some of the results public. One of the survey's first questions asked for their personal rating of the winning design. Some 33 percent liked it, 67 percent disliked it. Also asked was the question,do you think the color of the memorial should be white instead of black? Some 70 percent said yes, 21 percent said no. That sounds like pretty convincing evidence of major oposition to this design among Vietnam veterans." [SFX]
10/20/1982. Robert Lawrence, president of the American Institute of Architects, writes to chairman Brown supporting the CFA decision.
"By recommending a complete separation of the disparate design elements, the Commission has preserved the integrity of Maya Lin's award-winning design. An admirable balance has thus been struck between a recognition of service and comradeship as well as an acknowledgment of sacrifice." [PDF]
10/20/1982. Visitors jumping the gun alredy.
"The Writing on the Wall; Searching for Names at The Vietnam Memorial," by Christian Williams, Washington Post, 10/20/82: B1. Visitors anxious to find names, but the directory is not there yet. [SFX]
10/25/1982.
"Vietnam Memorial: Peace at Last," U.S. News & World Report, 10/25/82: 12. "The last battle of the Vietnam War ended October 13 -- with a truce." [SFX]
"Refighting the Vietnam War," by Melinda Beck with Mary Lord, Newsweek, 10/25/82: 30. "Brief review of the controversy. James Webb describes the memorial as "a Rorschach for what you think about Vietnam." [SFX]
10/27/1982. CFA chair Brown writes to Watt confirming the present situation.
"I believe we all felt our first get-together since the formal hearing on the 13th was most useful." [PDF]
11/1982. Professionals weigh in.
"Arts Commission Compromises on Compromise Design for Vietnam Memorial," Architectural Record, November 1982: 51. "AIA President Robert Lawrence, who had on behalf of the association vigorously opposed modifications to the memorial both as a threat to the integrity of the competition process and on aesthetic grounds, testified at the hearing that "We should not allow a patched-up, modified and compromised memorial to be built." [SFX]
"Viet Nam Veterans Memorial: Abstract or Representational?" Design Action, November-December 1982: 5. "The point of all this is that what they [the designers] think really does not matter. Maya Lin's idea is no longer hers. It has a life of its own. Now broader interests have been brought to bear on that life, ignoring her and her supporters. Her idea still has enormous strength and clarity. It can easily survive the additions proposed. Indeed, they may give it a richness it needs." [SFX]
11/4/1982. Remarks of James Webb at press conference to protest the CFA decision.
"Why is it that those who opposed the war become so threatened when they contemplate putting this sculpture in a place that will remove the nihilism from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? perhaps I can sum it up this way: not unlike Moby Dick, this is more than a story about a whale." [PDF]
11/4/1982. Remarks of Representative Don Bailey at the same press conference.
"The design of the Vietnam memorial must not be allowed to institutionalize or accommodate what has clearly been proven to be a cruel and inhumane point of view at the expense of those, as it has now turned out, [who] fought to achieve a proper end. . . . The fact that the memorial would carry no clear message of respect is an ultimate insult and is a crowning blow to the assault on their pride and self-respect, which Vietnam veterans have seen in this nation during the war and since its conclusion." [PDF]
11/4/1982. The VVMF puts out a "Statement Regarding Legislative Initiative on Memorial Design."
"Congress has never before interfered with the resolution of design matters in the hands of these agencies. To make the process subject to politics sets an unacceptable precedent." [PDF]
11/5/1982.
"Viet Vets Push Additions to Memorial," Washington Times, 11/05/82: A3. [SFX]
11/7/1982. Envisioning reconciliation and repair.
"Reconciliation in Granite," by Caryle Murphy, Washington Post, 11/07/82: A1. "Organizers of the upcoming 'National Salute [to Vietnam Veterans]' hope the therapeutic nature of time and the human desire for reconciliation will allow the activities to accomplish two things. The first is to exorcise in a national ritual the logic that blamed those who found themselves in the jungles of Vietnam for prosecuting what became this country's most unpopular war. . . . In addition the organizers hope the memorial and its attendant festivities will begin to help repair the divisions that scarred an idealism-prone generation now coming of age as decision-makers in America's business, social and political life." [SFX]
11/9/1982. Here comes Veterans Day.
"Preparations For Salute to Vietnam Vets Nearly Done," by Kenneth Bredemeier, Washington Post, 11/09/82: B1. Description of the upcoming 5-day festivities: "'I think it's going to be a very emotional time for Vietnam veterans,' Scruggs said, 'We've been freeze-dried now for a long time. This is the big welcome home we've all wanted.'" [SFX]
"Vietnam Memorial Seen as 'First Step in a Healing Process,'" by Mary McGrory, Washington Post, 11/09/82: A3. Quotes of some early visitors. "The starkness so affronted some of its patrons that they demanded the addition of a statue and a flag. To others, this is a touch of Norman Rockwell in the middle of a Dante-like statement, one which quarrels with the dark majesty of a wall constructed to bear the unbearable grief and pain of the only war in our history where the men who fled it were honored more than those who fought it." [SFX]
11/10/1982. The big parade.
"Salute Opening for Vietnam Veterans," by Lynn Rosellini, New York Times, 11/10/82: A16. Scruggs: "It's a little like the hostage situation. When they returned, they got all the hoopla and celebration. That's what we're trying to equal here. This is the big time for the Vietnam veterans to get the big parade and the whole thing." [SFX]
11/11/1982. Charting the visitor response.
"Tribute to Vietnam Dead: Words, a Wall," by Frances X. Clines, New York Times, 11/11/82: B15. "Official Washington has built a week of ceremony around the opening of the simple memorial that hugs a part of the Washington earth. The first senators have already come to pose for photographs. . . . But it is already clear that the wall has touched a much more basic and human strain of response, the simple act of touching the wall as much as reading the names. Bearded veterans wearing old fatigue jackets and battle medals can be seen reaching toward the names of remembered dead warriors, running the fingers across the letters. Gray-haired women lean forward and reach and touch. . . . 'You have to touch it. There's something about touching it.'" [SFX]
11/12/1982. Ceremony at the Wall.
"Remembering," by Judy Mann, Washington Post, 11/12/82: C1. "The ceremony, like the memorial, was movingly simple. The oldest child was 18, the youngest 10. One wept openly. They placed a wreath of red roses and mums at the center of the memorial . . . . Folk singers from No Greater Love, an organization founded to help the children of men killed or missing in the war, sang "America the Beautiful" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," the wrenching antiwar song that filtered up from the Mall so many times during the years of the protests. Yesterday, it moved many to tears as it asked the question the memorial will ask the ages: When will we ever learn? [SFX]
"An Effort to Victimize Vietnam Vets One Last Time," by Milt Copulos, Washington Times, 11/12/82. [SFX]
11/13/1982. More on the big doings.
"Minority Report," by Christopher Hitchens, Nation 11/13/82: 486. "The official dedication of the monument on November 13 (with the blessing of the very president who still refers to the war as 'a noble cause') has done nothing to banish the arguments or still the controversy. This is as it should be." [SFX]
"Vietnam Vets Come to Pay Tribute to Dead," by Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, 11/13/82: A1. "The veterans will march along Constitution Avenue in four groups, followed by military bands and a half dozen floats, with helicopters and jets flying overhead at noon, weather permitting." [SFX]
"The Vietnam Memorial," Washington Post, 11/13/82: A18. "We found that the memorial is becoming and humbling in appearance and mood and that its intended theme of reconciliation is beautifully served. . . . We are not sure where the idea came from that wars should be remembered through the representation of an unknown soldier. This memorial makes the soldiers known, and the effect is strong and clean, like the morning sunlight." [SFX]
"Area Vietnamese View Memorial With Interest," by Caryle Murphy, Washington Post, 11/13/82: B1. "Many of the 10,688 Vietnamese living in the Washington area have been interested bystanders in the debate surrounding the memorial and the events leading to its dedication this afternoon. With few exceptions they have not actively participated in those events. . . . Even when given an opportunity in conversation many Vietnamese do not criticize the United States for abandoning them at the end." [SFX]
"A Mood Is Built; Stillness and Force in the Vietnam Memorial," by Benjamin Forgey, Washington Post, 11/13/82: C1. "Experiencing the place simply obliterates the shrill oversimplifications of the debate concerning the aesthetics of the memorial. It is modern art, of course, and to some this is enough to condemn it. But it takes ideological blinders to ignore the basic fact that it works. . . . Still, adding the sculpture and flag clearly was a political, not an aesthetic, necessity." [SFX]
11/14/1982. And more.
"Diverse Crowd Is Unanimous In Homage to Vietnam Veterans," by Kenneth Bredemeier, Washington Post, 11/14/82: A18."The marchers, several thousand strong, often gave back the applause and shouted their thanks in return. One Pennsylvania veteran clasped his hands above his head and shouted to the crowd, 'We're home, right here! We're home!'" [SFX]
"Veterans Honor The Fallen, Mark Reconciliation," by Phil McCombs, Washington Post, 11/14/82: A1. "Today we dedicate a memorial to a generation of Americans who fought a lonely battle." [SFX]
"Reunion: Joined in Soul by Vietnam," by Neil Henry, Washington Post, 11/14/82: A1. "Since Wednesday, Washington has been a city of reunions. In hotel lobbies, on the street and in corner bars, but mainly at the black granite memorial they have come to know simply as The Wall, American veterans of the Vietnam War have met again, this time to reminisce of battles won and lost and to mourn comrades who never came back." [SFX]
"Roll Call," by Richard Cohen, Washington Post, 11/14/82: B1. "It is cold in November and the night comes fast, but it is still not hard to summon up the heat of the war protests. . . . The monument starts like the war itself, small and unseen. It grows larger, as the war did, by degrees, until it is higher than a man's head, and then, also like the war, it slowly fades until it is gone. It has almost no beginning and no end. The war was like that." [SFX]
11/20/1982. And more.
"The Agony in the American Soul Lives On," by Reginald Dale et. al., (London) Financial Times, 11/20/82: I: 17. A letter left at the wall: "Larry, I wish I knew why two people could ride the same truck together and one survive ambush and the other die. I will probably ask that question the rest of my life." [SFX]
11/22/1982. And more.
"Remembering a War We Want to Forget," by William Broyles Jr., Newsweek, 11/22/82: 83. "But their memorial is not a monument to the abstract ideal of war, to glory and victories or even to a cause. It is a reminder of the cost of war. It is a bill of sale." [SFX]
"Honoring Vietnam Veterans -- at Last," by Tom Morganthau with Mary Lord, Newsweek, 11/22/82: 80. "The sense of being alone may be the hallmark of the Vietnam experience -- and it is no doubt the reason why, after enduring the nation's indifference for nearly a decade the Viet vets swarmed into Washington." [SFX]
"A Homecoming at Last," By Kurt Anderson, Time, 11/22/82: 44-46. "If the war they were sent to fight makes it almost impossible for Viet Nam veterans to be hailed as heroes, they are at least no longer made to feel like pariahs." [SFX]
"A Thank You That Was 7 Years Late," by John S. Lang and Wendell S. Merick, U.S. News & World Report, 11/22/82: 66. "Though the new monument designed by Maya Ying Lin had been deeply scorned by those who thought its starkness and subtlety shamed the veterans, many who viewed it were deeply moved. Soldiers walked over from the Pentagon in uniform. Parents of the war dead came, hand in hand. Some prayed, some cried, some knelt to kiss the name of a lost relative or combat buddy." [SFX]
"Washington Diarist: Downcast Eyes," by Charles Krauthammer, New Republic, 11/22/82: 42. "Since I had been an early critic of Lin's design and wrote that I thought it more conducive to recalling the victims of some vast and terrible accident than the memory of fallen soldiers, I felt obliged to go down to the Mall and see it in the flesh. . . . The visual effect is startling. . . . I left the Vietnam memorial, but the feeling of waste and emptiness would not leave me. How does one honor those who die in an uncertain cause, I wondered. . . . [Maya Lin] protested furiously that the additions to her design will distort her original vision. I think she is right. I hope she is right." [SFX]
11/24/1982. Watt writes to Brown about the placement of the additions.
"It has come to our attention that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and various consultants have held preliminary discussions on the placement of the flagpole and the sculpture that in effect locate these elements 'in the trees.' My understanding . . . is that the flag and sculpture will be located to compliment the "wall" and not be shunted off out of view." [PDF]
11/26/1982. Something more is needed to make things right.
"'Peace, not eulogy, best tribute to vets,'" by Arthur Jones, National Catholic Reporter, 11/26/82: 24. "Vietnam. Tragedy dressed in ignominy restaged in acrimony. That great black marble wall that lists the Vietnam dead is something of a catharsis of emotions, people weeping but unable to comprehend. Vietnam's rifts and cracks in U.S. society will not die until the generations are dead; it has that in common with the last war to split this nation, the Civil war." [SFX]
11/28/1982. "The national catharsis has not happened.
"We Can't Bury 'Nam Under the Memorial," by Robert Kaiser, Washington Post, 11/28/82: C1. "There was such an outpouring of good feeling at the recent dedication of the Vietnamese veterans' memorial that it is tempting simply to leave matters as they are. . . . But it would do no real honor to the Vietnam veterans to confuse their personal and deserved catharsis with the sort of genuine national catharsis we have never had. The Vietnam monster has not been buried under those granite panels on the mall. It is still hiding under the rug, where we stashed it years ago." [SFX]
11/30/1982. Questioning the CFA decision.
"After Looking at the Memorial," Washington Times, 11/30/82. "It adds up to a strong case for giving the veterans what they want in positioning their consolation-prize flag and statue. There are esthetic incongruities, to be sure, but to put esthetics first in a situation such as this is frivolity that would insult the veterans -- and all Americans who take seriously the right and wrong of what their country does." [SFX]
11/1982. Letters from the public to the Commission of Fine Arts from September to November.
[PDF]
12/1/1982. The DCM Group reports to Jan Scruggs on their analysis of a questionnaire handed out at the dedication.
"In short, the methodology and questionnaire used in this survey raise more questions than they answer . . . . we do not feel it can be used with any degree of validity to represent a cross section or scientific sample of the views of Vietnam veterans concerning the placement of the flag and statue." [PDF]
12/6/1982. More responses to viewing the memorial.
"The Memorial: A Private Place For a Multitude Of Memories," by Sara Rimer, Washington Post, 12/06/82: A1. "They [the visitors] seem alone and vulnerable, their faces a study in anger and bewilderment and love and sorrow, all the emotions exposed. Their words, murmured to themselves or to others, mingle and mix and become as one song, a part of the memorial itself." [SFX]
"War Photographer's View," by Linda Wheeler, Washington Post, 12/06/82: A13. "The lasting monument is the photographs made during the week of salute to Vietnam veterans. . . . All the families here. All the emotion. That will be the real memorial." [SFX]
"What's in a Name," by TRB, New Republic, 12/06/82: 6, 39. "I think it is one of the most impressive memorials I ever saw. . . . There are no inscriptions to tell you what to think; there are no heroic utterances. It is stark. Each name is a special boy who never came home. It is all left to the observer." [SFX]
"Vietnam Memorial," letters to the editor, U.S. News & World Report, 12/06/82: 3. 1) "While the salute had its poignant moments, the media missed the burning of the Jane Fonda effigy at the memorial site after the parade." 2) "Couldn't the money for the memorial have been spent on the men [for instance, suffering from Agent Orange] who still need help?" [SFX]
12/14/1982. "Statement of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Regarding Compromise Agreement."
"We wish to set the record straight regarding what we did and did not agree to in order to get the memorial built." [PDF]
12/20/1982. Press release by Congressman Don Bailey: "Bailey Bills for Vietnam Memorial Pass House in Final Hours."
"These two resolutions [introduced by Representative Bailey] state that the flag, the inscription and statue must be placed as originally intended, as an integral part of the memorial rather than off to the side of the memorial as the Commission dictated." [PDF]
12/20/1982. Bailey's statements in the Congressional Record.
Congressional Record, House, H10511, H10661.
12/21/1982. Letter from Senator Matthias to Bailey.
"It would be highly inconsistent with this Congressional mandate and in violation of the principle of separation of powers for the Congress, as a body, to interfere with this process." [PDF]
12/23/1982. Letter from Scruggs to Senator Morris Udall.
"There was an unfortunate situation during the last session of Congress, however, and I suppose that former Congressman Don Bailey led you to believe that passing his resolution would somehow aid our efforts to complete the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Nothing could be further from the truth." [PDF]