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Maya Lin

The architect Maya Lin, famed for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, also produced winning designs for the Civil Rights Memorial (in Montgomery, Alabama) and the Women's Table (commemorating the admission of female students to Yale, in 1993) and once planned to design a memorial to various extinct plant and animal species.

One day in 2001, Louis Menand mentioned in passing that one of her relatives had designed the Monument to the People's Heroes in China. Was her own passion for momuments influenced by her family? Not at all. In fact, this connection was news to Lin. "There is, so to speak," Mandand remarked, "monument-making in her genes."

[Lin was also unaware of her mother Julia's incredible escape from Communist China -- she was smuggled out of Shanghai on a junk with a passport, visa, letter of acceptance, and ten dollars sewn into the collar of her dress and her slippers -- until she visited Shanghai in 1985.]

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