War and remembrance in downtown Chicago

August 12, 2013

I've always liked the siting of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located west of Wabash Avenue on the Chicago River.
 
You are down by the river, enjoying one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world, and right in the middle of it is a war memorial: a reminder that all of this comes at a painful sacrifice. 
 
I thought about this while walking through the memorial with my camera recently. Built in 2005 and designed by architecture firm Ross Barney Jankowski (now Ross Barney Architects) the memorial is a major component of the still-developing riverwalk system. It's a solemn, contemplative space with a reflection pool and a granite wall with the names of 2,900 Illinois service personnel who were killed or are missing in Vietnam.
 
We are still healing from the wounds of that war — and the others. Nearly 40 years after the war's official end, people leave their own tributes to the fallen, as the photos above and below show:
 
 
The memorial cost $4.3 million.