The Wall vs. "Three Soldiers"
“If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call
your best actions a ‘sacrifice’: that term brands you as immoral… If a man dies
fighting for his own freedom, it is not a sacrifice….”
Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”, p. 1029 (HC)
We who fought in Vietnam were there for any number of reasons, not many
thinking that he was fighting for his own freedom. My own reason for it was the
adventure of the thing. Whatever the motivations may have been, it is true that
there was a sacrifice—and that brand lies with
the politicians and intelligentsia that landed America in Vietnam, not with the
"The black gash of shame and sorrow."
This wall is a memorial to sacrifice. The "purpose" of that wall, wrote
the New Republic, is "to impress upon the visitor the sheer human waste,
the utter meaninglessness of it all...To treat the Vietnam dead like some
monstrous traffic accident is more than a disservice to history; it is a
disservice to the memory of the 57,000 [killed in Vietnam]."
"....a V-shaped wall, period, a wall of polished black
granite inscribed only with the names; no mention of honor, courage or gratitude;
not even a flag. Absolutely
skillproof, it was. Many veterans were furious. They regarded [Maya Ying
Lin's] wall as a gigantic pitiless tombstone that said, ''Your so-called
service was an absolutely pointless disaster.'' They made so much noise
that a compromise was struck. An American flag and statue would be added
to the site. Hart was chosen to do the statue.
Naturally enough, Lin was miffed at the intrusion,
and so a make-peace get-together was arranged in Plainview, N.Y., where
the foundry had just completed casting the soldiers. Doing her best to play
the part, Lin asked Hart -- as Hart recounted it -- if the young men used
as models for the three soldiers had complained of any pain when the plaster
casts were removed from their faces and arms. Hart couldn't imagine what
she was talking about. Then it dawned on him. She assumed that he had followed
the lead of the ingenious art worldling George Segal, who had contrived
a way of sculpturing the human figure without any skill whatsoever: by covering
the model's body in wet plaster and removing it when it began to harden.
No artist of her generation (she was 21) could even conceive of a sculptor
starting out solely with a picture in his head, a stylus, a brick of moist
clay and some armature wire. No artist of her generation dared even speculate
about . . . skill."
The Lives They Lived: Frederick Hart, b. 1943;
The Artist the Art World Couldn't See
by Tom Wolfe
Reprinted from The New York Times Magazine, January 2, 2000
Click image for large view.
Heroes Against The Wall
Vietnam Veteran James Webb Jr., a Marine Platoon leader
awarded the Navy Cross, resigned from the National Sponsoring Committee
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, to protest the memorial design.
He said “I never
in my wildest dreams imagined such a nihilistic slab of stone.”
Tom Carhart, a veteran and outspoken opponent of the
minimilistic design referred to it as "the black gash of shame and sorrow".
it commemorates the war "as some ugly, dirty experience of which we were
all ashamed." Cahart, a West Point graduate who led an infantry platoon
of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, and received two Purple Hearts
was in 1981 a civilian lawyer at the Pentagon.
Adm. James Stockdale, a prisoner of war awarded the
Medal of Honor, also resigned.
The Marine Corps League withdrew its support for the
memorial as insulting and denigrating those who came home from Vietnam and
those who did not.
"Three Soldiers" by Frederick Hart
" A trio of tired soldiers...of
warriors larger than life."
(Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe,
"Mr. Hart is a sculptor
in the 'neo-traditional' mode, which means you can tell what the sculpture
is about merely by looking at it. The three soldiers look like three
soldiers, tired and heroic."
(Ben Wattenberg, The Washington
"Hart captured in stone
something vivid, urgent, and alive."
(David C. Adams, The Free
"...there is about them the physical contact
and sense of unity that speaks of bonds of love....
And yet each one is alone. Their true heroism lies in these
bonds of loyalty,
in their aloneness, and in their vulnerability." (Frederick
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Compiled by Robert Tracy. June 1, 2011.