A Virtual Vietnam War Memorial

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Recently I posted about one of several sites in the virtual world of Second Life commemorating those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It brought home to me how an immersive 3D environment can be used as a powerful visualisation tool, providing focus for contemplation.

Shortly after writing this piece I was contacted by Second Life resident, Evian Argus (in Real Life Robert Egan of Meme Science), to tell me about another memorial. Timed to open in November to coincide with the 25th anniversary of its original dedication, Meme Science are building a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, commonly known as The Wall, in Second Life. The Wall lists all 58, 253 US service personnel killed or missing in the Vietnam war.

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Discussions about the project first started with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund around May, 2007, with contracts being finalised towards the end of August. The island will open to the public in early November, with a formal unveiling on the actual anniversary, the 13th of November. The plan is locate the island adjacent to the existing Capitol Hill islands, reflecting their location in the real world. The island will feature all 3 components of the memorial: The Wall; the Three Soldiers statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Information and name search facilities are planned, along with the option to leave virtual items (supplied by Meme) at The Wall.

The purpose is to provide a contemplative space for remembering the U.S. servicemen and women who died in Vietnam. It will be tied into a website that will offer name search facilities, research resources and more. The full list of features remains to be finalised. Evian was at pains to point out that the aim of the island is not political, it is simply to honour those who had given their lives and provide an education resource for those wishing to find out more, with tours, seminars and other events.

To quote their press release:

“We feel privileged to be selected as the firm that will build a replica of the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial Wall in the Second Life metaverse.” said Robert Egan, president of Meme Science. “It will be a welcome challenge to virtually recreate the complex architectural design structure originally devised by Maya Ying Li. Our goal is to try to capture some of the experience and heart felt emotions that can only be felt by visiting the real life Memorial Wall in Washington DC, while at the same time bringing attention and honor to those Vietnam Veterans that died giving service to our country on this the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s dedication.”

At the moment there is nothing to see, so I cannot comment on the construction, but it will be interesting to see if it manages to match the power of the sites constructed to remember the dead of 911. That is certainly the intention.

Images courtesy of Meme Science.

Aleister Kronos appears by kind permission of Ambling in Second Life

5 comments

  1. Pingback: SL and virtual memorials…. anyone else outside US???? « 88 Days
  2. Aleister Kronos

    Comment posted to 88 Days:

    Second Life is a platform, a stage, on which residents are (largely) free to build what they want. Indeed, it is not uniquely “American” in its viewpoint – and neither am I in reporting it (if you read my personal blog).

    There are sites built by all manner of people and organisations. There is nothing to prevent someone building a memorial to the genocide in central Africa, or Cambodia, or indeed the Holocaust or Stalin’s Purges. There is, for example, a site that provides information on the atrocities in Darfur. The (US!) Holocaust Museum has a site in Second Life, but it is not open yet.

    I, for one, would welcome such internationalisation. But you are mistaken if you see Second Life as American-biased. The majority of residents are from Europe now, with USA representing around 35%. The fact that they (we, I’m a Brit) have not built memorials may be simply due to the absence of appropriate anniversaries (though I agree this is a weak argument). Perhaps November 2008 (90 years after the end of World War 1) might produce some examples.

  3. AWM Mars

    Second Life is a dynamic platform that allows for expressions of every kind, along with the free creativity. It is an eye openner to see just how the platform is used and can be used.
    I admire, that despite a countryman being far from home, can reach through this platform and be as close as to his own countrymen and share in a moment of his nations history at any given time.
    Another splendid example of the ingenuity of the many talented and far reaching visionaries within the Second Life platform.

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