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Remembering Vietnam My War Story - Bill Nelson
My War Story - Marsh Carter
My War Story - Nancy Sinatra
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My War Story - Ron Nessen
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The Three Servicemen statue is the result of the controversy surrounding Maya Ying Lin's design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some veterans and their political supporters felt that The Wall was "a black gash of shame" or a "giant tombstone." It was too abstract a design for others who wanted a more heroic, life-like depiction of a soldier. To meet these concerns, it was decided that a traditional statue would be added as an integral part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The late Frederick Hart, who had won third place in the original competition, was selected to create a suitable work of representational sculpture to be added to the Memorial site. The statue was unveiled in 1984, two years after The Wall's completion.
Comprised of three men carrying infantry weapons, the statue grouping has been called both The Three Soldiers and The Three Servicemen. The men are wearing Vietnam War era uniforms and could be from any branch of the U.S. military at that time. Interpretations of the work vary widely. Some say the troops have the "thousand yard stare" of combat soldiers. Others say the troops are on patrol and begin looking for their own names as they come upon the Memorial.
Hart's goal was to create a sculpture which was a moving evocation of the experience and service of the Vietnam veteran. He described it as follows:
|"The portrayal of the figures is consistent with history. They wear the uniform and carry the equipment of war; they are young. The contrast between the innocence of their youth and the weapons of war underscores the poignancy of their sacrifice. There is about them the physical contact and sense of unity that bespeaks the bonds of love and sacrifice that is the nature of men at war. And yet they are each alone. Their strength and their vulnerability are both evident. Their true heroism lies in these bonds of loyalty in the face of their aloneness and their vulnerability."|
The lead soldier was modeled after a 21-year-old Marine who was stationed in the Washington, D.C. area in 1983. The soldier carrying the machine gun on his shoulder was modeled after a Mexican-American, and the African-American is a composite of several young men who the sculptor used as models.
The bronze sculpture was placed in a grove of trees near the west entrance to The Wall. Despite the earlier controversy, the statue today fittingly complements The Wall.
Nearby, a flag is flown 24 hours a day. At the base of the flag staff are the seals of the five branches of military service, with the following inscription:
THIS FLAG REPRESENTS THE SERVICE RENDERED TO OUR COUNTRY BY THE VETERANS OF THE VIETNAM WAR. THE FLAG AFFIRMS THE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM FOR WHICH THEY FOUGHT AND THEIR PRIDE IN HAVING SERVED UNDER DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
For questions regarding the use of the Three Servicemen (or Three Soldiers), please click here.
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