WHAT IS THE WALL?
The memorial is an open-air circular pavilion, 200 feet (61 m) in diameter. Around the entire outside are 366 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) black granite panels, each one representing a day the year. The casualties are listed according to what day they were killed.
In the middle of the circular pavilion is a red oak, the state tree of New Jersey. This tree provides shade for three statues, one of a dying soldier, one of a nurse tending to his wounds, and one soldier standing at their sides. They represent those who died, the women in the war, and those who came back safely, respectively. They also represent multiple nationalities as the fallen soldier is white, the standing soldier is African American, and the nurse is Latino.
The stone panels are arranged so they are about 12 feet (3.7 m) higher than the inner courtyard. The ten stairways and two ramps leading up to them intersect, as the designer did not want the pathways for the handicapped separate. These ramps are arranged in a double helix, each one ascending to the top in half of the circle. The two entrances to the memorial are tunnels, symbolizing the trip the soldiers took to Vietnam.
The memorial is oriented so that the May Seventh panel, the day the war ended, points towards Vietnam.