One of the objections raised was the selection of Maya Lin as the artist. She was only 21 years old and a student at Yale. She designed a v-shaped, sunken wall of black stone engraved with the names of those killed in action. The fact that she was young, a woman, Asian-American and that her design did not look like a traditional war memorial added to the controversy.
Veterans were especially vocal about the design. They believed that it looked like a "black scar hidden in a hole, as if out of shame." They wanted to change the color to white and add a sculpture of wounded soldiers and a flag in the center. The protesters, which included a congressman and the Secretary of the Interior, issued an ultimatum: make the changes or the project won't be built.
In the end, a compromise was reached. The wall remained black and the sculpture and flag pole were incorporated two years after its dedication (1982), but off to the side. In 1993, a second statute commemorating women who served in Vietnam goes up beside it.