When the 18-year-old Scruggs volunteered to enlist in the Army in 1968, debate surrounding Vietnam was escalating. “I had calculated that it was possible to see all of them in a minimum of 3 1/2 hours. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Waiting meant they would never reach their dedication deadline of November 11, 1982. After the dedication, Scruggs and Wheeler walked together along the upper side of the Memorial ground, near Constitution Avenue. The first fundraising letter was signed by Bob Hope. “On the second day, the jury examined the designs together, walking the many aisles and stopping at each of the 232 designs that had been flagged by one or more of the jurors, pausing to discuss each design that had been noted. Vietnam veteran Joseph Zengerle, then an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, volunteered the use of an aircraft hangar at Andrews Air Force Base. The selected design then had to go through Federal agency approval and development into finished plans. He rec’d an Air medal and 2 bronze stars and PTSD. Letters came from moms, dads, grandparents, sons and daughters with heartfelt notes accompanied by checks and dollar bills. P hilip Jacobson wrote three sobering reports on America 10 years after the end of the Vietnam war for the Observer Magazine of 28 April 1985. By year’s end, 2,573 individuals and teams had registered – almost 3,800 people in total. Their military experience meant they had contacts far and wide, at all levels of all professions, within government and the private sector. The reputation of the jurors was important to attract the best designers and to minimize second guessing by the Federal approval bodies. He made an impassioned plea for funding to his guests, members of the defense industry. On Saturday, a grand parade took place where veterans marched joyously out of sync, some hand-in-hand or with their arms draped around one another, holding banners, flags, and signs. 6,301 images were photographed by Peter Krogh; Darren Higgins used six computers to stitch 1,494 images into a single 5 gigapixel image of The Wall. I learned the controversies over the war and heard various history teachers ask “who was right?” As I learned more, I grew more conflicted over that question, but I think it was the wrong question to ask. As a first step, VVMF retained architect Paul Spreiregen to serve as the Professional Advisor for the competition. 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam . As VVMF focused on fundraising, Sens. Because he possessed great knowledge of history, he understood the extensive healing process required after war. Then, in October 1980, veteran and lawyer Tom Carhart, also a former supporter, testified before the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) against the design, saying that “One needs no artistic education to see this design for what it is, a black trench that scars the Mall. Could a memorial accomplish such an enormous and daunting task? They were either ignored or shouted at and called vicious names. The memorial, located near the western end of the Mall , is a black granite V-shaped wall inscribed with the names of the approximately 58,000 men and women who were killed or missing in action . They needed support, friendship and help. Because Warner was from Virginia and Mathias from Maryland, the two had worked together on many regional issues. By the time he returned home, three months after the explosion, the country was even further divided. Other Vietnam sites. Items are gathered by park staff. To achieve this effect she chose polished black granite for the walls. Although differences in the two bills required a Conference Committee to meet, on July 1, at a White House Rose Garden ceremony, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation providing two acres for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. The National Park Service archives most of the nonperishable items left at The Wall. The Vietnam War Memorial wall has helped so many families get a sense of closure. The love and acceptance that the American people gave to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial have continued unabated for over 25 years. As Scruggs had always envisioned, the Memorial would feature all of the names of those who had died. Scruggs took two weeks off from his job at the Department of Labor to develop the idea further. He also wanted to find a way to help them heal and suggested that the country build a national memorial as a symbol that the country cared about them. I lived quite close to the nation’s capital for over a decade, and in my time there, I visited almost every existing historical site and museum, but nothing struck me more than the first time I saw the Vietnam War Memorial when I was nine: two jet-black stone walls rising up out of the ground to form a “V,” and thousands of white names printed in perfect lines across the black background. On November 8, 1979, VVMF held a press conference in which Mathias, Warner, and several others announced the introduction of legislation to grant two acres of land near the Lincoln Memorial for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The vision of VVMF is to ensure a society in which all who have served and sacrificed in our nation's Armed Forces are properly honored and receive the recognition they justly deserve. His research had proven that post-traumatic stress was real and had shone a light on the challenges faced by a significant number of military veterans. The Gold Star Mothers is a group of mothers whose sons or daughters have died serving their country. 3. 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old. Rubbing: Descendants, friends, distant relations, and comrades go to the Wall to find the name of their service member who died in Vietnam. At 21 and still an undergraduate, Lin conceived her design as creating a park within a park — a quiet protected place unto itself, yet harmonious with the overall plan of Constitution Gardens. Ultimately, one of the greatest challenges was how to get that many names on the wall panels in  such a short period of time. No federal funds were used to construct the wall. Charles “Mac” Mathias, a Navy veteran of World War II, had been opposed to the war in Vietnam, but he had always respected those who served in it. Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment. It was decided that VVMF would hold a design competition, open to any American citizen over 18 years of age. Browse a selection of images of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “I heard there was a group of serious veterans, not just people getting together to have a beer in the evening, but a group that was serious about getting together to address the problems of the veterans.”. “When I was attending law school, Vietnam veterans were an anomaly among the young single professional set of Washington, so it was something you didn’t mention.” remembered Doubek. By early 1982, VVMF asked Warner to bring together both sides for a closed-door session to hammer out the issues. Scruggs would never forget the awful scene. Vietnam War Memorial Site: Notable Deaths & Obituaries. Vietnam War Memorial Blood, Sweat, and Tears of War.jpg 2,048 × 1,536; 1.22 MB Vietnam War Memorial in DC.jpg 900 × 675; 768 KB Vietnam War Memorial Mother and Son.JPG 625 × 468; 177 KB One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was 15 years old. Photo by William “Bill” Lecky. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also called The Wall, national monument in Washington, D.C., honouring members of the U.S. armed forces who served and died in the Vietnam War (1955–75). The war’s length and the growing number of casualties were fueling tensions. Mathias and Warner continually stressed that their objective was to provide the country with a symbol for reconciliation. Many felt it should be composed primarily of veterans; others felt it should be made up only of professionals; some thought a mix of the two would be best. Over several tense weeks, more debate followed, until CFA and NCPC gave their approval for a statue and flag in concept, pending suitable placement of those elements. Those two men have the distinction of being the first two names on The Wall, officially the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors American armed forces members that fought in the Vietnam War. Mathias had grown increasingly concerned about how veterans had been treated on their return. On April 27, 1979, four years after the Fall of Saigon, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF), was incorporated as a non-profit organization to establish a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War. All of the names were read out loud this year for the fifth time. I never served. Crowd at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1982. All heroes are listed alphabetically by their last name. They came from all parts of the country and represented every state. “It seemed unfair and inappropriate that there should be no recognition.”. Wheeler recruited others to help, starting with a group of professional men, all Vietnam or Vietnam-era veterans: George “Sandy” Mayo, Arthur Mosley, John Morrison, Paul Haaga, Bill Marr, John Woods and certified public accountant Bob Frank, who agreed to become VVMF’s treasurer. The purpose of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was to honor all who had served, with a special tribute – their names engraved – for those who did not return. First battlefield fatality was Specialist 4 James T. Davis who was killed on December 22, 1961. It was the reminder that the men who died in Vietnam all had faces and names, as well as friends and families who loved them dearly. Using his findings, he testified at the Senate hearing on the Veteran’s Health Care Amendments Act of 1977, with the hope that he could help veterans gain access to the services and support they needed. Her only son Robert, an Army draftee, was killed by a land mine on his 21st birthday, June 6, 1968. Numbers certainly do not tell the whole story - or all of them - but they certainly paint a picture of lives lost and families devastated. “It was a whirlwind of events, and the press coverage was unbelievable. After working alone for six months, Doubek was joined on the staff by Kathy Kielich, who served as the Office Manager throughout the project. Bob was the detail person and a good writer. The Vietnam war has been over for forty years now but the Vietnam War Memorial Names will never be forgotten. Learn how your comment data is processed. I was dumbfounded that we had succeeded at doing this. Each juror was required to read Fields of Fire, A Rumor of War, and other current literature about the Vietnam War. Corporate Address:  384 South 400 West, Suite 100, Lindon, UT 84042, 801-341-7000. Its mirror-like surface reflects the images of the surrounding trees, lawns and monuments. “I think I even spilled my coffee.” But, her presence made a difference. The added component of military security made the location even more attractive, since it would ensure no interference with the designs or the judging. (This page and its contents are not intended for residents or home owners in the states of MA, NY or WA.). By Thursday morning, it was down to 39. Each name is listed with great honor and respect. The wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington is 493 feet and 6 inches long, built of thick, polished black Bangalore granite. Paul Haaga’s spouse, Heather Sturt Haaga, soon came forward to lend her experience in fund raising. Only a few, such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, had been the result of open competitions. There were four phases to the design competition spanning almost one year: planning and preparation; the launch; the design phase; the design evaluation and selection; the press conference and public presentation. Timing is everything, and enough time had passed. But the veterans had real problems. All of these items are stored in a museum-quality facility in Landover, Maryland. They came from veterans and from the neighbors, teachers, coaches and friends of veterans. They were also the most collegial people, who would deliberate intensely but never argue or posture,” Spreiregen remembered. Scruggs added: “Make this place look like an airstrike was called in,” he instructed. 58,286 names are listed there in chronological order of casualty date. She is still remembered fondly by veterans for the moving Memorial she designed for them. By the March 31, 1981, deadline, 1,421 design entries were submitted for judging. Learn more about featured topics of the Vietnam War and Vietnam Era. The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act designates March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day, an opportunity for all Americans to recognize, honor, and thank our Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice during one of … One of Mathias’ early key suggestions was that the memorial should be on the Mall, especially because the anti-war demonstrations had taken place there. Beginning with the year 1959 inscribed at the top of the panel on Panel 1 East (1E), the listing goes out to the right, to the end of the east wall, Panel 70 East (70E). He organized the advisors and volunteers into task groups: public relations, financial management, fund raising, legislation, site selection, and design/construction. This lends a sense of personal intimacy in a public space which helps create a sense of connection to the memorial. For weeks, heated discussions took place around the topic of who should be part of the design jury. Ms Lin arrived at a design solution to note those that were MIA with a symbol (†) that could be altered if the service member was found. “Holding a competition is like launching a rocket. It was such a great cause, and they were bound and determined to make it happen.”. In the end, the quarry in India was selected. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. A memorial made perfect sense to him. Lin knew it was critical to maintain the simplicity of the design throughout the design development and construction process. The largest age group, 13,103 were 18 years old. And that message got through to me.”. In the end, what matters most are those names. VVMF agreed to the statue compromise, as well as to adding a flag and to reviewing the inscription on the Memorial, but they did not want to wait until a statue was designed before breaking ground. “The first phase encompassed the detail planning and preparations for holding the competition,” said Spreiregen. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1982, with 57,939 names. The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old. His reasoning was that a complete mess would make it tough to stop construction. Spreiregen, a graduate of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, was a Fulbright Scholar who had served as the director of urban design programs at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) from 1962-66 and as the first director of architecture programs at the National Endowment for the Arts from 1966-70. The choice of the lettering style – Optima, designed by Hermann Zapf – was a font Lin selected after considering a multitude of options.The font Optima seemed to fit that desire to match an almost printed quality with a hand-cut feel. “It was the most thoughtful and thorough discussion of design that I have ever heard, and I have heard many,” he recalled. Most, like the Lincoln Memorial, were competitions between select designers. Everyone wanted to join the effort. He found that returning veterans were finding it hard to trust people. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the … Our fallen Vietnam War heroes are here…the 58,000 heroes who died in Vietnam. I’ve walked through Washington, DC more times than I can remember. I felt nothing but stone. Listed as KIA February 7, 1978 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall USA website is dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. “We had to build credibility among the design community, but also build credibility with the veterans,” said Woods. An article by Hugh Sidey in the February 22, 1982, issue of TIME magazine described the session: “A few days ago, 40 supporters and critics of the memorial gathered to try to break the impasse that threatened the memorial because of such features as the black color of the stone and its position below ground level. It would have power for individual veterans, but collectively, they would have even greater power to show the enormity of the sacrifices that were made.”. Search the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's database of names on the wall. Some opponents simply did not like the fact that Lin was a young student, a woman, and of Asian descent; how in the world could she possibly know how to honor the service of the Vietnam veteran? On that January day, “There was a big explosion,” Scruggs recalled. The text size is less than half an inch, which is unusual for monument design, but was selected to make the memorial read more like a book. End-to-end, the total number of submissions would have stretched one and one third linear miles. The CACF is the basis for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall):Average age of 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years. The memorial features the names of more than 58,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives in service to their country. April 27, 1979 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF), was incorporated as a non-profit organization to establish a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War. “The design competition also needed to be able to attract design competitors.”. I learned more about what the Vietnam War actually was and what those names really meant. With the seed money from several defense industry donors, especially Grumman Aerospace, VVMF launched its first large-scale direct mail campaign to reach out to the public. 2) In order for a Service member to have his or her name added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, one of the following criteria must be satisfied: A Service member must have: They were unwrapped, number coded, photographed for the record, and prepared for display. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands as a symbol of America's honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. 8,283 were just 19 years old. “We’re all the result of our upbringing. I was finishing my first grade year in 1975. Many pushed friends in wheelchairs. Over the next few years, as the war came to a close and more and more troops returned home, the media began to paint a picture of the stereotypical Vietnam veteran: drug addicted, bitter, discontented, and unable to adjust to life back home. VA ID 979752000 FHA ID 00206 Alaska Mortgage Broker/Lender License No. The flag-waving crowds even cheered.”, Over the four days there were also workshops, parties, events, and reunions. Scruggs, Wheeler, and Doubek then scouted the Mall – sometimes by bicycle – to identify the ideal spot: a stretch of parkland known as Constitution Gardens, located on the National Mall adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial. Mathias also knew the country was ready, Healy recalled. The public wanted to have a hand in helping to build the Memorial and in honoring the warrior, not the war. By 1979, the country was beginning to have more positive feelings toward Vietnam veterans. A few of the most vocal opponents, including James Webb and H. Ross Perot, had previously been strong supporters of a memorial. But if the challenges seemed insurmountable, no one expressed any fears. Our country needed something symbolic to help heal our wounds.”. “It will be a better memorial if it’s not entirely understood at first.” Everyone wanted to join the effort. Mathias and Warner continued to rally support and ferry the legislation. What they did need, however, was an acceptable location for the Memorial and enough support to push the idea through various governmental committees and agencies. The memorial is a two acre national memorial unveiled in 1982, located in Washington, D.C., containing the names of more than 58,000 American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. “After three-and-a-half years of nonstop effort and work, with all that you have to do to accomplish what we did, it was beautiful. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, is dedicated in Washington, D.C. Together, we can make sure our heroes will get the reverence they deserve and the stories and sacrifices of our heroes will never be forgotten. “They found that they were very real people who did many of the same things they did,” recalled Spreiregen. Low VA Rates, LLC is not affiliated with any U.S. Government Agency nor do we represent any of them. Larry Century, a young inventor from Cleveland, Ohio, was selected to serve as a consultant to Binswanger Glass Company in Memphis, Tennessee, which was awarded the contract for inscribing the names. Throughout the judging process, one of the judges, Grady Clay, had taken meticulous notes of the jury’s discussions. Movies were dealing more realistically with their issues. The idea for a memorial seemed like a natural extension of his work and his growing desire to find a way to help veterans. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. has the names listed in chronological order by date of loss. Everyone seemed to forget those southeast Asian jungles, and the veterans they claimed. From the registration forms, it was apparent that architects, artists, designers, as well as veterans and students — of all ages and all levels of experience — were planning to participate. The 15,000 in uniforms and civvies, walked among floats, bands and baton twirlers. . Lin became a design consultant to the architect of record. I remember running my fingers across the lettering as if touching the white stenciling would somehow let me touch those soldiers, feel their lives, hear their final thoughts when they left this earth. As part of the wall’s 30th anniversary … The Salute opened with a vigil Wednesday morning at the National Cathedral, where all of the nearly 58,000 names on The Wall were read by volunteers around the clock, day and night, through midnight Friday. The Three Servicemen is a statue depicting a European American soldier, an African American soldier, and a Hispanic American soldier. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund | 1235 South Clark Street, Suite 910 | Arlington VA 22202 | 202.393.0090 The Vietnam War Memorial actually consists of three more structures in addition to the Wall of Names. But they were just letters. Wheeler suggested that it should be a landscaped solution: a peaceful, park-like setting that could exist harmoniously with the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. “It would help veterans heal. Scruggs and Doubek met with Mathias to outline their plans. The VVMF organizers soon learned that it required an Act of Congress to build a memorial on Federal land, and Scruggs first called one of the senators for his home state of Maryland. Send us an email and we'll get back to you, ASAP. Instead, Lin found John Benson, a master stonecutter, to hand cut the text at the apex – the years of the earliest and latest casualties from the Department of Defense list and the brief prologue and epilogue adjacent to the dates. And if they themselves didn’t know how to help, they knew someone who did. They did not like its minimalist design. Died in Vietnam between November 1, 1955, and December 31, 1960; or They set their sights in support of the clear, simple vision Scruggs outlined: to honor the warrior and not the war. He also found that those veterans whose units experienced high casualty rates were experiencing higher divorce rates and a greater frequency of combat-related dreams. With such an overwhelming response to the competition, logistics became an issue. Color should mean nothing now.’”, Sidey’s piece continued: “At the end of five hours and much shouting, General Mike Davison, retired, who led the Cambodian incursion in 1970, proposed a compromise: add the figure of a soldier in front of the long granite walls that will bear the 57,709 names of those who died or are missing and the tribute to all who served. Never in the history of the United States had a national memorial been conceived, approved, built and dedicated in that short an amount of time. There is also a memorial plaque located northeast of the Three Servicemen. Spreiregen recommended having a multi-disciplinary panel: two architects, two landscape architects, two sculptors, and one generalist with extensive knowledge about art, architecture, and design. But how and where could all of the submissions be displayed? “Confused times need simple forms.”, According to the description of the design concept: “The jury chose a design which will stimulate thought rather than contain it.”. They were also keenly aware that the legislation made the Memorial’s design subject to the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and the Secretary of the Interior. With the winning design in hand, Spreiregen had less than 24 hours to craft an explanation of the decision—and the design—that would be suitable for presentation to VVMF. Their return 1993, the team realized how important the chronological listing was to and. Design then had to go through Federal agency approval and development into finished plans granite for the permits. Help, they were greeted with enthusiasm for the fifth time the Department Labor... From serving their country, there was no National show of gratitude, Mosley Woods. 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