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The Wheel

There are footprints embedded in the concrete, boots on the ground. A child measures her own foot against a soldier's, the empathy so immediate and direct that it borders on being obvious. She is standing in that soldier's shoes, surrounded by a thousand more boot prints.

Each pair represents about 300 of the dead who served.

Each pair represents about 300 of the dead who served.

The boot prints form concentric circles, open to the sky.

The boot prints form concentric circles, open to the sky.

Behind the surrounding colonnade is a wall clad in Vietnamese granite, lined with the names of donors; they look inward but keep a respectful distance away. You can sit down here. Images projected above remind us of the best of what these soldiers did under the worst of circumstances.

To get down here you follow a winding path from where you parked.

To get down here you follow a winding path from where you parked.

You can read about the war on the ramp itself, the story unfolding as you spiral down. Stay up top to circle the boot prints from above and get a panoramic view of the park, or take in a geography lesson as you literally walk upon a map, political boundaries mutating on your phone as you move.

The wheel appears self-contained but is actually integral with its setting.

The wheel appears self-contained but is actually integral with its setting.

The spiral ramp not only resolves the sloping site for those with disabilities but also connects two of the park's disparate pathways. The rolling hill slips underneath, behind a colonnade facing the trees, and makes a shaded gathering place for large groups...

...while the flattest, nicest parts of the site remain untouched.

...while the flattest, nicest parts of the site remain untouched.

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