Regarding "More Is Not Better," commentary by Times art critic Christopher Knight (Oct. 17):
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not impressive from afar. Instead of rising majestically from the ground, the Wall sinks into the earth, looking a bit like the kinds of embarrassing cuts the developers made in the Southern California mountains in creating "terraced" home lots. It also begins deceptively, with a tiny panel at foot level on which are engraved a few names.
As one walks down and along the Wall, however, the panels get progressively larger until they are well overhead at the vortex. It is at that point that the enormity of the number of names becomes apparent and often overwhelming.
The first time I saw the Wall, 10 years ago, I sobbed uncontrollably and sought refuge in the engulfing arms of Abe Lincoln, as well as in his comforting words, as inscribed on the walls of his nearby shrine.
I had not seen the Wall again until recently, and I was appalled at the changes evident. Not only is the Frederick Hart sculpture intrusive, but at least the day I was there one had to pass a line of booths set up by veterans groups to reach the site. No matter the quality of the art or the praiseworthiness of its honorees, the women's statue will be intrusive as well.
The Wall should be returned to its original state, so that we may clearly see ourselves in its polished granite as we reflect on the human cost of war, no matter how noble the cause.
WILLIAM F. EADIE
It goes without saying that Knight will be in for an onslaught of letters regarding his article. During a visit to the capital over the Memorial Day Weekend, I had exactly the reaction that Knight described. His analysis and commentary are right on target.
After experiencing a deeply moving and emotional reaction to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (despite the noisy motorcycle protesters), I could only be glad that Frederick Hart's sculpture was somewhat removed and obscured from Maya Lin's beautifully simple Wall.
I am sure Knight will hear from the ranters and ravers who must always make a political statement. But have these same naysayers ever stood beside the quiet, contemplative visitors who pay respect, lost in memories and tears, and not realized that there could never be a more fitting remembrance of those who died in the Vietnam War?
You are right. More harangue about the issue of good or evil of the Vietnam War is not better. To view the giant tombstone of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a gut-wrenching experience. Standing at Arlington overlooking the field of white crosses is equally painful. At Yad Vashem in Israel the art gallery displays the work of artists who all ended their life's work in 1944-45, all memorials to the victims of war.
Frederick Hart and Glenna Goodacre were commissioned to create tribute to the returnees who were sent to war and fought as they were directed by the powers that be. Whether the war was glorious is not the issue here. To a vast majority of our populace, art is a visual creation to which they can relate. A skillful, beautifully composed abstract does not reach the audience.
Resisting the Hart and Goodacre commissions as unnecessary is repeating the negligence of our nation to honor those who served, suffered and returned to be reminders of the failure of a cohesive plan by our leaders, who represent you and me.
So make up your mind: Judge art or carry your flag in the next peace parade.
An art critic I am not. I have never been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have seen many pictures of it. I have heard it described as Knight has--gravely beautiful. However, I take great offense that, in his opinion, the Women's Memorial Project is a "wheezy artistic cliche," that the Hart and Goodacre statues glorify war and keep the closing wounds open, that the additions erode the meaning of the Wall.
I was an Army nurse and served time in Vietnam with my countrymen and countrywomen. Ask one of us how we feel about the two "kitschy" additions. The women's memorial depicts caring, tender feelings. It honors women who served in Vietnam. This is part of our healing and the country's feeling. It does not glorify the war. It does not make a political statement.
I will be at the dedication on Nov. 11. I will feel proud to be a part of the Veterans Day celebration. To me, this statue depicts how I felt when I was overseas.
Mr. Knight, get a grip!
The treatment of the Vietnam vets upon their return home was disgusting. The Wall is dramatic and powerful in its length, names etched in black stone, forever reminding us of those who have perished.