This Veterans Day will mark the 30th Commemoration Anniversary of The Three Servicemen Statue.
The Three Servicemen statue was born out of a controversy surrounding Maya Lin’s design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some veterans and political figures felt that The Wall was a “giant tombstone,” also referring to it as a “black gash of shame.” For many, it was too abstract a design and people searched for a more heroic, traditional depiction of those who served. As a compromise, it was decided that a statue would be added as a fundamental part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Frederick Hart was selected to create the representational sculpture that would pay homage to our veterans.
On Oct. 13, 1982, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts unanimously accepted the proposed sculpture. The Statue depicts three soldiers, purposefully identifiable as Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic-American. Hart stated, “You are supposed to see three soldiers, but there are a lot of things I want you to feel as well. I want you to see that these are very young people. I want you to feel that they bore an excruciating burden.”
The Three Servicemen Statue was unveiled on Veterans Day in 1984, two years after The Wall’s completion. A flagpole that flies the American flag 24 hours a day was dedicated at the same time. At the base of the flagstaff are the seals of the five military services, with the following inscription: “This flag represents the service rendered to our country by the veterans of the Vietnam War. The flag affirms the principles of freedom for which they fought and their pride in having served under difficult circumstances.”
Through the years, The Three Servicemen Statue has continued to be a powerful tribute honoring our Vietnam veterans.
Sculptor Frederick Hart died in 1999 at the age of 56.