Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vietnam Women's Memorial

While Washington, DC has many monuments and memorials, there are not many in honor of American women and their contributions to the nation. However, the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation worked to fix this oversight and honor the more than 11,500 American women who served in Vietnam War with this sculpture on the National Mall. About 90 percent of women Vietnam veterans served as medical personnel, providing medical treatment and comfort to an estimated 300,000 wounded military service members during the conflict. The memorial consists of four figures -- three nurses and a wounded soldier. Designed as a sculpture in the round, the third nurse is not visible in this photograph. Here's what its sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, shared about the memorial's design:
My first concern in designing this sculpture was to arrange the four figures in a composition that is interesting from all angles: a true sculpture in the round. The photos from Vietnam often included stacks of sandbags. It seemed natural for a nurse – in a moment of crisis – to be supported by sandbags as she serves as the life support for a wounded soldier lying across her lap. The standing woman looks up, in search of a med-i-vac helicopter or, perhaps, in search of help from God.
The kneeling figure has been called “the heart and soul” of the piece because so many vets see themselves in her.She stares at any empty helmet, her posture reflecting her despair, frustrations, and all the horrors of war. The soldier’s face is half-covered by a bandage, creating an anonymous figure with which veterans can identify. Even though he is wounded, he will live. I want this to be a monument for the living.
Located near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which is a memorial honoring the dead, this tribute to the living is the perfect juxtaposition. It beautifully expresses their emotions of compassion, anxiety, fatigue, and dedication during this conflict.

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