If the successful dedication of the bronze statue of three American soldiers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site two weekends ago brought the controversy over the memorial to a long-awaited halt, one issue, at least, remains unsettled. Does the statue have a name?
"No," said sculptor Frederick Hart, the statue's creator. Despite the fact that during the dispute about the memorial design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund began issuing press releases referring to the figural grouping as "Three Fighting Men," Hart maintained that the statue was never officially named, and with good reason. It is, he said, "an integral part of the memorial, an untitled statue of three servicemen."
Hart's position did not faze Hartz/Meek International, a public relations firm handling publicity for the events culminating with the statue's dedication on Veterans Day. The firm compounded the confusion by calling the statue "Three Servicemen" in its press releases.
And then there are the veterans themselves. Several former soldiers, conversing with Hart in a bar a day or so after the dedication, told the sculptor of a name they had adopted for the three realistic figures. "They called them 'The Keepers,' " Hart said, "as in the keepers of the memorial."