This day in historyOn Nov. 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in honor of the brave men and women who fought and died in the Vietnam War. Most Americans know about the famous memorial in Washington, D.C., and many have visited it armed with a piece of paper and a pencil to stencil a copy of their loved ones' names found engraved on the memorial's wall.

The black, granite structure is a long v-shaped wall that has the names of almost 60,000 Americans deeply etched into its surface. The names include all the Americans who died in the war. They are ordered by time of death rather than rank.

Memorial's Design Was Controversial (at First)

The architect of the monument, Maya Lin, was a student at Yale who submitted her memorial design to a national competition. The design was controversial, though, because it was completely devoid of heroic statues and poetic words that are common on most war memorials. However, just several months after the monument was completed, the public welcomed it with tears and open arms, as they walked along its reflective surface in search of their deceased loved ones' names. Visitors often leave flowers by the names of their loved ones, or they leave dog tags and even cans of beer.

These days, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most popular memorials in Washington, D.C. A director from the Smithsonian Institute dubbed the area surrounding the memorial as a community of feelings and a sacred precinct. One Vietnam Veteran described the wall as the parade they never received.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was constructed 10 years after the conflict came to a close and it helped the nation heal from the death, heartache and political turmoil caused by the war.

Do You Know Anyone Featured on the Wall?

Have you ever visited this world famous memorial? What were your thoughts, impressions and feelings while walking along its length? Do you have any relatives, friends or loved ones whose names are proudly featured on the wall? Please tell us about them in the comments below!