Honoring Sacrifices

Maya Lin grew up in Athens, Ohio.  Her parents emigrated to the United States, but Maya was born in the U.S.  Maya never thought much about her cultural heritage growing up.

While at Yale, Maya entered a public design competition.  There were 1,422 entries, but Maya’s was very different.  The submissions were anonymous to encourage the review panel to value the design concept over the reputation of the designer.

Rather than a design featuring an image or a grand looking structure, Maya’s design was simply a black granite wall.  Maya’s design was accepted and has become one of the most treasured memorials in America:  The Vietnam War Memorial.

The acceptance of Maya’s design was controversial.  Ross Perot, a candidate for President, called her an “egg roll.”  The fact that the judges didn’t know her ethnicity or her lack of experience contributed to the selection of a design that has changed the way we think of memorials.

Innovations often impact our thoughts of what to expect. When innovations depend upon funding from others, some effort must be made to assure that biases don’t influence the decision of the project to fund. Innovations often require completely rethinking what has been before. Innovation requires boldness of thought and self confidence in one’s ideas even when those ideas are outside the norm.

Just imagine the courage it takes to follow through on your ideas? Just imagine what it takes to strike off in new directions? Just imagine how all of us can sense when new directions are needed?

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“To fly we have to have resistance.”  – Maya Lin

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