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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was one of the most important elements in helping to shift American public perception back towards honoring those who served in the conflict. Maya Lin's design had provoked so much in way of public anger. Some of it arising from Lin's ethnicity, itself. Yet, when the memorial was built, the emotional and therapeutic effect was profound:
Rarely in the long history of art, if ever, has an object crafted from stone affected a society's emotions so widely and deeply as the Vietnam memorial. Most intense and dramatic, perhaps, was its impact on the veterans themselves, for whom the wall represented a place for healing and the end of the long silence in which most had shrouded their experiences for many years.
There are not many elements in American society that constitute a pure form of the word "pilgrimage." Yet, "the wall" became a pilgrimage of sorts for millions of America who were impacted by the effect of the wall. The graphite etchings, the scenes of people touching the wall almost as if they were reaching out to loved ones lost, and the very idea of this stone being a portal into a realm of emotional connection and understanding were all reactions or responses to the wall. The memorial started the process of healing America's challenged and frayed relationship with the Vietnam War. It was through the memorial that change and reconsideration about Vietnam and those who served in it took place.
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