FACTS ABOUT THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL COLLECTION
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection (VVMC) is one of the most important contemporary collections being developed in the United States today. The objects left at the Memorial represent tangible evidence of the effect of a specific historic epoch on American and international society. They also provide testimonies that will help explain the social history of the Vietnam War generation. It is essential that the objects be properly documented and preserved.
Owing to the volatile social and political postures of the Vietnam-era and the ultimate goal of the Memorial's founders to nourish national reconciliation, the term "war memorial" was dismissed. Known as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Memorial makes no statement on the politics or the conduct of the war.
The Vietnam War is the longest, and arguably the most controversial, in U.S. history. Congress never officially declared war against North Vietnam, but on August 7, 1964, the 88th Congress passed the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), which authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."
|The first American ground combat troops landed in South Vietnam during March 1965, specifically the U.S. Third Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, deployed to Vietnam from Okinawa to defend the Da Nang, Vietnam, airfield. During the height of U.S. military involvement, December 31, 1968, the breakdown of allied forces were as follows: 536,100 U.S. military personnel, with 30,610 U.S. military having been killed to date; 65,000 Free World Forces personnel; 820,000 South Vietnam Armed Forces (SVNAF) with 88,343 having been killed to date. At the war's end, there were approximately 2,200 U.S. missing in action (MIA) and prisoner of war (POW).|
Source: Harry G. Summers, Jr. Vietnam War Almanac, Facts on
File Publishing, 1985.
In 1979 a group of Vietnam veterans operating from Washington, D.C. founded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF). Their objective was to have a tangible tribute to those Americans who served in the Vietnam War. They stipulated that the Memorial be contemplative in character, harmonize with its surroundings, be an inviting site, contain the names of all those who died or remain missing, and make no political statement. By separating those who were lost in the war from divisive political issues, the VVMF hoped to foster national reconciliation and begin the healing process.
The following dates are benchmarks for the development of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.:
- July 1, 1980: Congress authorizes a site in Constitution Gardens near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The site answers the need for a large, park-like setting, which the organizers had hoped to find.
- October 1980: The VVMF launches a juried national design competition that attracts 1,421 design entries for the Memorial. The jury's unanimous selection was designed by a 21-year-old student at Yale university, Maya Ying Lin.
- March 11, 1982: The Memorial's design and plans receive final approval.
- March 26, 1982: Ground is formally broken for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a.k.a. the "Wall."
- (Late) October 1982: The Memorial's walls are completed.
- November 13, 1982: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated.
- Spring of 1984: The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc. is founded in Minnesota as a separate non-profit organization. The objectives of the organization are to raise funds for the construction and landscaping of a "Vietnam Women's Memorial" at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and to educate the public regarding contributions made by women Vietnam veterans to their country during the Vietnam War.
- Fall of 1984: Frederick Hart's life-size 3-Servicemen sculpture and a U.S. flag are installed. (According to F. Hart, the statue was not titled). Both the sculpture and the flag are funded by the VVMF.
- November 11, 1984: President Ronald Reagan accepts the completed Vietnam Veterans Memorial, U.S. flag, and 3-Servicemen statue on behalf of the Nation. Custodial care is turned over to the National Park Service, National Capital Region and National Capital Parks Central, U.S. Dept. of Interior. The conveyance of agreement specifies that the VVMF will participate with the National Park Service (NPS) in the following: ceremonies at the Memorial on Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, the adding of those names determined to have died as a result of injuries sustained in the Vietnam War, and the maintaining of residual funds for the maintenance and repair of the Memorial.
Source: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
- November 11, 1988: Near the end of his presidency, President Ronald Reagan delivers a keynote speech at the Memorial. The speech acknowledges, among other things, the American public's appreciation of its Vietnam veterans. An original note, signed by President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, will eventually go on display at the Smithsonian Institution (SI) as part of the first public exhibition of VVMC objects.
- October 28, 1992: The first public exhibition consisting of representative objects left at the Memorial opens at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The loan exhibition is entitled "Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation." The exhibition heralds the first major museum exhibition collaboration between the NPS and the SI. According to the SI's public affairs office, an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 visitors view the exhibition during its scheduled six-month showing. The exceptionally high visitation prompts a one-year extension, with a tentative conclusion date of June 1994. Later, with the approval of the NPS and the SI, the exhibit is extended indefinitely.
- November 11,1992: As part of the 10th anniversary ceremonies, Vice President-elect Albert Gore gives a keynote speech at the Memorial.
- May 6 and 7, 1993: Eight new names are inscribed on the Memorial. The number of names inscribed on the Memorial is 58,191.
- 31 May 1993: President William "Bill" Clinton delivers keynote address at the Memorial. President Clinton becomes the first chief-executive to speak at the Memorial on a Memorial Day.
- July 29, 1993: A ground-breaking ceremony for the Vietnam Women's Memorial is held on the National Mall. A 6 1/2-foot bronze sculpture is to be formally dedicated on November 11, 1993. The sculpture depicts three women, one of whom is attending a fallen soldier. These three women are symbolic in honoring all the women who served in Vietnam, and the Memorial honors all women who served in the military. Some of the dignitaries in attendance are as follows: Diane Carlson Evans, chairperson of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc.; Glenna Goodacre, sculptor of the Vietnam Women's Memorial; Jan Scruggs, President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; and Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- November 1, 1993: After being transported from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and stopping for viewing, the Vietnam Women's Memorial covers 21 cities in three weeks. The Vietnam Women's Memorial is installed approximately 300 feet from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where it will remain under the cover of canvas until its dedication ten days later.
- November 11, 1993: The Vietnam Women's Memorial is formally dedicated. Some of the speakers participating in the ceremony are: Diane Carlson Evans; Glenna Goodacre; Robert Stanton, regional director of the NPS-National Capital Region; Vice-President Albert "Al" Gore; keynote speakers Col. A. Jane Carson, USA, (Ret.) and William J. Crowe, USN, (Ret.), former chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Jan Scruggs, President of the VVMF. The dedication of this Memorial completes what is informally known as the "triangle" of Vietnam Veterans Memorials.
- October 30, 1994: The second museum exhibition of objects from the VVMC premiers at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts. This show is also the first to be organized outside Washington, DC, and is a collaboration between the National Park Service and the Museum. The exhibition is entitled "Gathered At The Wall: America and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial." The scheduled viewing dates are from October 30, 1994 through May 28, 1995.
- November 2,1994: Five names of Vietnam veterans are added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Four of the five died from injuries sustained in the Vietnam War. The number of inscribed names on the Memorial is 58,196.
- May 6, 1995: The third museum exhibition of VVMC objects opens at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The exhibition is scheduled to run until January 22, 1996, and is entitled "A Place of Tribute: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial."
- May 1995: Turner Publishing releases a pictorial book of representative objects from the VVMC titled OFFERINGS FROM THE WALL: Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection. The project is a collaboration between the National Park Service and Turner Publishing.
- Winter 1995: An interactive CD-ROM is released by Magnet Interactive of Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the NPS. The CD-ROM is entitled "Beyond the Wall: Stories Behind the Vietnam Wall." Selected images from the VVMC are featured as well as a manipulatable directory of VVM names.
- May 8, 1996: Six names of American servicemen are inscribed on the Memorial. Of the six men who died as results of wounds sustained in Vietnam, four are Army veterans, one is a Navy veteran, and one is a Marine veteran. The number of inscribed names on the Memorial is now 58,202.
- June 27, 1996: The fourth VVMC museum exhibition, entitled "Conflicts Since 1945," premieres at the Imperial War Museum in London, England. A component of this exhibition emphasizes the Vietnam War by way of objects selected from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection.
- July 2, 1996: The fifth VVMC museum exhibition, entitled "Vietnam Memories: Stories Left at the Wall," premiers at the Jersey Explorer Children's Museum East Orange, New Jersey. The opening heralds the first collaboration between the VVMC and a children's museum. Viewing is scheduled for July 3, 1996 through November 30, 1996.
- (Late) October 1996: The VVMF begins touring its half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- March 7, 1997: A ceremony acknowledging the 15th anniversary of the ground breaking for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is held on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. Six senators who fought in the Vietnam War are in attendance. The six senators are as follows: Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Chuck Hagel, Senator John Kerrey, Senator Chuck Robb, Senator John McCain, and Senator Max Cleland.
- May 6, 1997: Seven names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The seven individuals died in the Vietnam War and their Memorial inclusion was delayed, primarily as a result of determining "what constitutes a death as a direct result of the Vietnam War...." The number of inscribed names on the Memorial is now 58,209.
- May 19, 1997: Roxbury High School in Succasunna, N.J. is chosen as the pilot school for a National Park Service/Jersey Explorers Children's Museum collaborated Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection (VVMC) traveling exhibition. An estimated 1,000 visitors view the exhibition during the first three days. Viewing of the VVMC exhibition is scheduled for two weeks.
Approximately 8.4 million dollars was raised to build and install the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the 3-Servicemen Statue and the U.S. flag that has an engraved base of the U.S. military branches of service. The money was raised entirely through contributions from: corporations, foundations, unions, veterans, veteran organizations, civic organizations, and more than 275,000 individual Americans.
Source: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc. raised 4 million dollars to cover the expenses of building this Memorial. They took the project from authorizing legislation and commission approval process, through the design competiton, landscaping and construction of the VWM. It continues its public education, sister search, and research programs.
Source: Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc.
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has become one of the most visited Memorials in the Nation's Capital. Currently, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial are the most visited national Memorials in Washington, D.C. According to the NPS and the VVMF, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has seen an estimated 20,000,000 to 25,000,000 visitors.
- Presently, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection encompasses approximately 53,000 objects, and donations continue apace.
- The term Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection has become the collective term for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the 3-Servicemen statue, and the Vietnam Women's Memorial. Informally, these three Memorials are known as the "triangle of Vietnam Veterans' Memorials."
For additional information concerning Vietnam Veterans Memorial subjects (such as criteria for the adding of Memorial names, etc.), may we suggest that you contact the following:
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
815 Fifteenth St., N.W., Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 393-0090 Fax (202) 393-0029
For additional information concerning the Vietnam Women's Memorial (such as Memorial-associated programs, etc.), may I suggest that you contact the following:
Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc.
2001 S Street, N.W., Suite 302
Washington, DC. 20009
(202) 328-7253 Fax (202) 986-3636
If you have further questions about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, you can contact the Curator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: June 5, 1997