Every major war the United States has been in, we as an American public have found a way to honor those who served. The National Mall in Washington DC honors those who served their country in the World War II, Korean and Vietnam memorials. Though the intentions of the architects and American public are to honor those who served. One cannot deny the strong difference in structures used to remember those who fought. By looking at these memorials and comparing them, one can infer which wars the American public considered victorious or failures, just by looking at their design and size.
The World War II memorial is perhaps the most extravagant with a gigantic water fountain/reflecting pool in the center. Encircling the water fountain are columns, each symbolizing a state of the United States and their territories in 1945. At night the memorial is visible with lights, lighting up the fountain and the columns. It is the most well lit area in the National mall. The overall feeling you get while being there is nearly joy. The only thing that changes that feeling is the star at the west wall, each star representing one hundred soldiers who lost their lives for the price of freedom. Other than the stars, there is only feeling of victory, with quotes of hope and heroism by famous leaders. Moving to the Vietnam War, it’s memorial is small, almost hard to find in comparison to the WWII memorial, and is just a wall with a list of those who sacrificed their lives during the war. Off to the side of the wall, is the two statues of three soldiers that commemorates the United States Military. The Vietnam Memorial in general is a lot less celebratory than World War II memorial, and in fact many ways gives a solemn feeling. With the list of the dead, flowers, wreathes and little American flags lining the wall, I felt almost disrespectful taking a picture of it. Gave off a feeling of a graveyard, and the American public view as so, with the way it was constructed, a list of the dead on a stonewall. Not to mention the very dim lighting at night compared to the World War II memorial. This is not surprising considering the Vietnam War is considered the least successful war, out of the three memorialized at the National Mall. There is nothing to triumph over Vietnam.
The Korean War is a different story but is memorialized in a way that can be considered a combination of the World War II memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. Both the Vietnam memorial and Korean Memorial have a wall made from the same stone, but instead of listing the dead the Korean memorial shows drawings of soldiers and men that served. Like the Vietnam Memorial with the soldier statues, the Korean has more, nineteen soldiers to be exact. The wall, with a reflecting pool, and nineteen soldiers compared to a wall and two statues, is a massive difference. What’s odd about this is how many consider the Vietnam War, a more important war in history. It did define US culture in the early 1970’s. Where as the Korean War is not really thought of as much, yet when commemorating those who served, the Korean War memorial is a lot more extravagant. This follows the order of public’s opinion of success of these wars. Vietnam is considered by the American public to be the least successful war, while World War II the most successful. The Korean War is the forgotten war, and was neither a great success nor failure. Hence the combination of design when looking at all three structures. Though these memorials all vary in feeling they all have one thing in common, to honor those who served. Even though the elaborate design of the World War II memorial does give the overwhelming sense of victory and near joy compared to the simplistic structure of the Vietnam memorial. The best way to truly commemorate those who served is in silence when you walk through these memorials, no matter their size, lighting, or structure.