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The competition by the Monument Committee that Maya Lin had won with her Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial design had consisted of 1,400 anonymous entries. After Maya Lin’s 21-year old Asian identity had been revealed, her design had received a lot of backlash and discrimination. Nevertheless, Maya Lin was able to win the heart of the judges and thousands of Americans; not only was her Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial installed, but it is also the most visited monument in Washington D.C. Lin won the hearts of many by designing a memorial that was apolitical and deeply personal. Lin’s design consisted of over 58,000 names of those who were servicing in the Vietnam War printed on black granite; the black granite provided a reflective surface that created an illusion and although all the names were individually written, there is a strong and powerful sense of unity within the monument. Additionally, it’s beautiful how Lin created a monument that allowed those who were left behind to come to terms with the death of their loved ones by creating a monument that seems to literally come out of earth and provide a peaceful place for people to reflect.
Maya Lin’s design is unlike many other war monuments where powerful soldiers and historical figures are depicted; these designs provide a powerful but public and general feeling that lacks intimacy. On the contrary, Lin’s design overwhelms the person observing it, pulling him or her into a chronological journey that allows the onlooker to feel the peacefulness of the design; it is a monument of intimacy and power. In Lin’s one-page pitch for her design, she emphasizes the purpose of her monument by explaining the monument’s focus on the whole of men and women who have died in the war rather than an individual focus on one person, making the monument very personal, but also a place for everyone to come to peaceful terms with the loss of their loved one and with themselves.
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