On this day in 1982, the V-shaped, polished black granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in Washington D.C.'s Constitution Gardens, nine years after the withdrawal of American forces from the Vietnam War. In 2003, over four million had visited the memorial.
"The purpose of all war," observed St. Augustine, "is peace."
Designed by Chinese-American Maya Ying Lin when she was a 21 year-old Yale student, the wall was conceived as part of a park within a park. Lin called her design "a rift in the earth--a long polished black stone wall, emerging from a receding into the earth--to be understood as one moves into and out of it."
The wall's 140 reflective panels are inscribed with the names of 58,235 Americans who died or remain missing in the war. The names are in the chronological order of their death, "in the order they were taken from us."
Lin explained, "Some people wanted me to put the names in alphabetical order. I wanted them in chronological order so that a veteran could find his time within the panel. It's like a thread of life."
A profound experience to visit, the memorial is a shrine to the continuous thread of life and a powerful reminder of the high cost of war... and peace.
Understand... and Remember.