Consider Maya Lin. While a young architecture student at Yale University, she enrolled in a class on funerary architecture. The distinguished professor gave a class assignment for his students to enter the national competition for the design of a Vietnam Memorial, which would be constructed on the Mall in Washington DC. Ms. Linn's design proposal was one of 1420 submitted, along with one by her professor, who gave her a barely passing B- in the class.
She imagined a stark, radically different design with two long, low black granite walls, built into the earth and bearing the names of all Americans killed in the war. She specified that the granite be highly polished, so that mourners would see their reflections on the surface of the memorial.
She learned during graduation week at Yale that her design had won the competition. Many Vietnam veterans protested her memorial design, calling it depressing, dark and too plain. A few claimed that Maya Linn, born in Ohio to Chinese-descent parents, wasn't "American enough" to design a memorial to US soliders.
Today, Maya Linn's Vietnam Memorial is considered one of the world's great war monuments. Millions travel from across the US and around the world each year to admire its solemn beauty and homage.
All because she wasn't touched by discouragement....
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