Have you seen the Vietnam Memorial Wall in person? I have and it is a beautiful and terrible thing at the same time. If you haven’t seen it, imagine name after name carved into granite that seems to stretch on for an eternity. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is trying to put a face and story behind each and every name on the wall. This is amazing! Please read this guest blog and forward to anyone you know who has served in Vietnam or knows someone who did. Let’s help them out, Marine Corps style!!
Will You Answer the Service Challenge?
My name is Jan C. Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 30 years ago, I helped build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This monument healed millions with the engravings on a black granite wall. Now, I am taking those names and putting a story and picture behind it in a new museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC; the Education Center at The Wall.
The Education Center of The Wall will change the people who visit it. For the nearly 40 percent of visitors who weren’t even born when The Wall was completed, it will transform the long list of names cut in the smooth black granite. Instead of simply names, visitors will see the faces and know the stories of the 58,000 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.
Through interactive exhibits and primary source materials, visitors will be able to better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had on their family members, their home towns, their communities and the nation. Visitors will understand the importance of The Wall and the role it continues to play in healing the deep physical, emotional and societal wounds left by the war.
One of those interactive exhibits is called the Call for Photos. VVMF is trying to collect every single photograph of each person on The Wall. People are sending us photographs daily, along with personal remembrances. Here is one we received the other day. It was written for William Walsh JR, from his high school classmate Ed Jones.
“I have finally been able to trace Farmer’s name to this memorial. I am thankful for the opportunity to place a remembrance of him and would love to hear from others who wish to share in this memory. As his platoon leader (known as ‘LT’), it was my honor to have him in our unit. I did not know Farmer well. But I do remember that he was a hard worker, had a sense of humor and was a very reliable unit member. Of course, I remember well the exact circumstances of his death – where he was, where I was, the explosions… It was a true tragedy that should have been avoided. In those days, we were our own worst enemies. Sadly, he was the only member of my platoon to die in Vietnam.
I look back after 39 years and a lifetime of work and family and I know what Farmer missed. His death is a searing and personal reminder of what life means and the potential lost when one dies young. While Vietnam was the most defining moment of my life, Farmer remains the most indelible memory for me of that place and time. I hope the scars of his loss have long healed for his family. My wish would be that something very good has happened to his family to balance out the pain and suffering of his death. Much time has passed and maybe the good Lord has seen fit to provide recompense. I was lucky and returned home 5 months after his death. Just 2 years ago, my oldest and best friend from Vietnam, former Co. D Commander, Chuck Karwan, died. Time is and will continue to take its toll on all of us. While those days may seem long past, their memories are fresh and worthy of our greatest respect. God bless Farmer.”
It’s my goal to share Ed’s submission in the Education Center, so generations to come can know the legacy of this great patriot. It’s also my goal to break ground on the Education Center this Veterans Day.
In order to raise the rest of the needed funds so we can break ground, from now until Veterans Day, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) is issuing a Service Branch Challenge. The challenge is for each of us to support the Education Center and show pride in one of the branches of the service.
General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret) has agreed to lead the charge for the US Army, in their efforts. “The Education Center at The Wall will be a place where our fallen comrades and their stories will live on forever,” said McCaffrey. “I’m proud to lend my support and encourage those who love the US Army to get involved. Supporters of the Army are already leading the way, and have donated more than $21,000. I challenge leaders of the other branches to step up to try and catch us.”
Join Gen. McCaffrey and me in some good natured competiveness and help us remember the legacy of service made by all 9,000,000 million men and women who served with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard during the Vietnam War Era.
Jan C. Scruggs,
President and Founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund