De­signer Maya Lin gets US’ high­est civil­ian honor


Maya Lin, the sculp­ture and land­scape artist who de­signed the Viet­nam Veter­ans Me­mo­rial in Wash­ing­ton, was among 21 Amer­i­cans who re­ceived the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, the na­tion’s high­est civil­ian honor, from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in a White House cer­e­mony.

Lin was 21 and in her se­nior year at Yale Univer­sity when she won the pub­lic com­pe­ti­tion to de­sign the Viet­nam Veter­ans Me­mo­rial, which launched her ca­reer. She stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture and sculp­ture at Yale and grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in 1981.

Lin was born in Athens, Ohio. Her par­ents mi­grated to the US from China, her fa­ther in 1948 and her mother in 1949. They set­tled in Ohio be­fore Maya was born. Her fa­ther, Henry Huan Lin, was a ce­ramist and for­mer dean of the Ohio Univer­sity Col­lege of Fine Arts. Her mother, Ju­lia Chang Lin is a poet and taught lit­er­a­ture at Ohio Univer­sity.

Lin is also the niece of Lin Huiyin, a noted 20th-cen­tury Chi­nese ar­chi­tect and writer, known to be the first fe­male ar­chi­tect in mod­ern China.

Obama also hon­ored an­other de­signer, ar­chi­tect Frank Gehry, in the awards pre­sen­ta­tion on Tues­day. Gehry’s best-known build­ings in­clude the Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall in Los An­ge­les and the Guggen­heim Mu­seum build­ing in Bil­bao, Spain.” It was Obama’s last Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom cer­e­mony.

The award is pre­sented to those who “have made es­pe­cially mer­i­to­ri­ous con­tri­bu­tions” to the se­cu­rity or na­tional in­ter­ests of the United

The award is pre­sented to those who “have made es­pe­cially mer­i­to­ri­ous con­tri­bu­tions” to the se­cu­rity or na­tional in­ter­ests of the United States.

States, to world peace, or to cul­tural or other sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic or pri­vate en­deav­ors.

The cer­e­mony wasn’t Lin’s first time meet­ing Obama. She also re­ceived the Na­tional Medal of the Arts from him in 2009.

Lin told NBC News in an email that when she learned that she would re­ceive the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, she was “speech­less and so very, very hon­ored.”

She has said that her lat­est me­mo­rial, ti­tled What Is Miss­ing, will be her last. She said that it hon­ors the lives that hu­mans de­stroy: the en­vi­ron­ment and nat­u­ral world.

Obama’s 2016 list in­cluded 19 liv­ing Amer­i­cans and 2 who have died, and was heavy on fig­ures from the en­ter­tain­ment and sports in­dus­tries. Oth­ers join­ing Lin and Gehry in­cluded: co­me­dian Ellen DeGeneres, ac­tors Robert De Niro and Robert Red­ford, pro­ducer Lorne Michaels, singer Diana Ross, base­ball an­nouncer Vin Scully, phi­lan­thropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar, Michael Jor­dan, Bruce Spring­steen, Cicely Tyson and Tom Hanks.


US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama awards land­scape ar­chi­tect Maya Lin the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom dur­ing a cer­e­mony in the East Room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day.

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