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Vietnam Women's Memorial: Facts and History

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Jul 2015 05:40 PM

The Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C., pays tribute to women veterans by acknowledging the crucial, lifesaving work that thousands of women did in Vietnam as volunteers. Its centerpiece is a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of three military women tending to a wounded male soldier.

The Women's Memorial debuted in 1993 as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial — the iconic etched wall that was dedicated 11 years earlier and remains one of the most visited sites in Washington, D.C., according to The Huffington Post.

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While not the first sculpture dedicated to American women veterans — a distinction claimed by The Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, Wisconsin — it was the first in the nation's capital to honor their service, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Set in a garden between the Vietnam Wall and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the sculpture by artist Glenna Goodacre is often compared to Michelangelo's "Pieta," for its dramatic juxtaposition of suffering and tenderness.

Estimates of how many women actually served in Vietnam range from 4,000 to 15,000, according to The Vietnam Virtual Archive, part of The Vietnam Project at Texas Tech University.

What is certain, according to Texas Tech, is that nurses represented the vast majority — more than 90 percent — of women in military roles during the era of U.S. fighting in Vietnam, 1965-1975.

But women served in other capacities in Vietnam, and eight were killed there — their names among the more than 58,000 carved into the founding memorial's mirrored black panels. Goodacre, accordingly, wanted to portray a fuller range of experiences in her sculpture.

"While all the figures are wearing fatigues, sculptor Glenna Goodacre deliberately included no identifying insignia, to symbolically include all the women — military, medical and even civilian volunteers — who served in Vietnam," The Washington Post reported.

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The Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C., pays tribute to women veterans by acknowledging the crucial, lifesaving work that thousands of women did in Vietnam as volunteers.
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2015-40-08
Wednesday, 08 Jul 2015 05:40 PM
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