The United States involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1959 and continued until 1975, making it the longest war in US history. Unlike the "good war" (WW II) where we (the US) was fighting to save the world from Evil Nazis, the war in Vietnam was seen by many Americans (especially young people) as a big mistake. There were massive protests against the war all around the country in the early 1970's. After the war's end, a great controversy grew up around how to remember the war. For the members of the armed forces, the tradition of "honor to fallen comrades" was an important part of their past. There are plenty of memorials to wars, and even battles within wars (such as the Gettysburg battlefield memorial), and the veterans wanted to commemorate the conflict in southeast Asia in some way. Other people felt strongly that the war was a national disgrace, and that our government should be ashamed of how it acted. It was a great challenge to design a memorial that could somehow deal with both points of view.