The Vietnam Veterans Memorial serves as a testament to the sacrifice of American military personnel during one of this nation's least popular wars. The memorial consists of three distinct sections. The Memorial Wall, the Three Servicemen statue and flagpole and the Women in Service to the Vietnam War statue. The purpose of this memorial is to separate the issue of the sacrifices of the veterans from the U.S. policy in the war, thereby creating a venue for reconciliation.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, international in scope, is comprised of objects that have been left at the Memorial Wall. The collection includes objects directly related to military service (dog tags, patches, uniforms and military clothing, combat boots, c-rations, discharge papers, photographs, and metals); archival materials (letters, poems, birth announcements, birthday cards, personal dedications, newspaper obituaries, books, Bibles, family photographs, and Vietnam snap-shots); personal offerings associated with the names on the wall (high school diplomas, teddy bears, liquor bottles, records, and clothing); and protest items (Missing in Action and Prisoner of War bracelets). The collection also includes objects related to the designer Maya Ying Lin's involvement in the design and construction of the monument; objects related to Joel Meisner Foundry's involvement in the design, construction, and installation of the Three Serviceman statue.