Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. (Shelby Township, MI)

 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.  There are several parts to this memorial, but the most striking element is the 246 foot granite wall, inscribed with the names of the soldiers who died in Vietnam.  If you’ve never seen it, check out the picture below:

You can get a sense of the memorial from these photos.  You walk up to this black granite wall, which starts out at 8 inches high, then grows to more than 10 feet high, and finally recedes back to 8 inches high.  The granite has such a polished look that you can see your own reflection, even as you read the names of the people who died.  The reflection is intended to show the connection between our lives and the lives of those who died for us. 

There have been families making rubbings of the names of loved ones, and other families leaving flowers and personal items near a family member’s name.  It’s not a cheerful place to visit, but it’s one of the very best memorials I can imagine.  The names of more than 58,000 soldiers, either killed or missing in action, are etched simply onto the granite. The memorial was envisioned by Maya Lin (the 21 year old Yale student who won a contest to design the extraordinary monument) as a scar in the landscape, a long and deep scar that is healing.  It truly feels that way. According to davenportlibrary.com