The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (often called the Wall) is located in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Wall is made up of two nearly 250 foot (75 m) long black granite walls that meet at an angle of about 125 degrees. Inscribed on the Wall are the names of those Americans who died in the Vietnam War in chronological order. As of 2003, there are 58,325 names.
These walls are sunk into the ground with the top flush with the earth behind them. At the highest point (the apex where they meet), they are 10.1 feet (3 m) high, and they taper to a height of 8 inches (20 cm) at their extremities. Granite for the wall came from Bangalore India. One wall points toward the Washington Monument, the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial. There is a pathway along the base of the Wall, where visitors walk, read the names, make a pencil rubbing of a particular name, or pray.
On May 6, 1981 a jury of architects and sculptors unanimously selected Lin's design for the memorial from 1,421 other entries. Ground breaking was held on March 26, 1982 with dedication of the memorial on November 13, 1982 after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans. Her design was for the central element of the monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
The design lacks many of the elements traditionally present in war memorials, such as patriotic writings and heroic statues (although three statues were added to the memorial site in 1984). Names are listed in the chronological order in which servicemembers died, and information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given. Controversy surrounded the wall's dedication, with some veterans' groups decrying it as inappropriate or unpatriotic. Since then, however, both veterans and the American public in general have come to admire the Wall, which is one of the most visited sites in Washington.