Making the Memorial – Maya Lin

In the article “Making the Memorial” by Maya Lin, Lin discusses the origin and intentionality behind her Vietnam Memorial, as well as the ways that she explores the opposite side of the spectrum as far as expectations for memorials go. As we discussed in lecture, Lin’s   approach to the memorial was criticized. Instead of a massive glorious monument, the memorial instead is dug into the ground, much like a scar. She explains her appreciation and admiration for many different memorials, specifically naming one in Thiepval, France.

When designing her own, she wanted to focus on the “nature of accepting and coming to terms with a loved one’s death” and continues to say that accepting someone’s death was the first step to overcoming the feeling of loss. As I discussed earlier, Lin talks about our current culture, and the relationship we have with death and mourning.

“I felt that as a culture we were extremely youth-oriented and not willing or able to accept death or dying as a part of life. The rites of mourning, which in more primitive and older cultures were very much a part of life, have been suppressed in our modern times. In the design of the memorial, a fundamental goal was to be honest about death, since we must accept that loss in order to begin to overcome it. The pain of the loss will always be there, it will always hurt, but we must acknowledge the death in order to move on. ” (Making the Memorial, pg 2, Lin)


When discussing memorials, I found this extremely eye opening to compare and contrast which memorials were grand and glorious, and which ones were meant to pay tribute over purely remembering glory.



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