NPS Conservator entering items into storage
NPS Curator cataloging items left at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

NPS Photo

Leaving Tributes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Since its dedication in 1982, visitors have brought offerings to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor and remember those who served in the Vietnam War. Many of these poignant tributes are now preserved in the park’s museum collection. If you choose to leave offerings at the memorial, please note that the park cannot keep all of the thousands of items that are left each year. Objects that become part of the museum collection are preserved by the National Park Service in perpetuity, which requires ongoing preservation and resources for their long-term care and storage.

Tributes left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are considered voluntarily abandoned property and are handled according to 41 CFR Part 102-41 Subpart C. Items do not automatically become part of the museum collection. They are evaluated according to whether they fit the collection’s scope and are assessed in relation to the rest of the collection. Items that are not retained for the collection will not be returned.

Preference is given to objects with a direct connection to the soldiers listed on the memorial and to objects that have a discernible connection to service in the Vietnam War. Preference is also given to items that provide context for a better understanding of the many aspects of the Vietnam War and its veterans.

To be considered for the collection, objects must be left at the memorial; no objects will be accepted through the mail. A unique attribute of the collection is that it consists entirely of items left at the memorial.

The National Park Service takes no responsibility for any object left at the memorial unless it is selected for the park’s museum collection. Items left at the Memorial are deemed to be the property of the National Park Service when voluntarily abandoned. Park staff may choose to save items for the museum collection or respectfully dispose of them.

Items left by school and youth groups at the memorial are not retained for the park’s museum collection due to the large volume of material. The park encourages school and youth groups to explore alternative ways to honor our Vietnam veterans such as having a class create their own virtual Wall; encouraging students to volunteer with veterans; raising money for organizations that help veterans; or identifying and honoring local veterans.

The scattering of human remains is prohibited anywhere on the National Mall, including at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Human remains and associated objects should not be left at the memorial and will not become part of the museum collection.
To learn more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, please read the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Scope of Collection Statement. You can also Email the Curator with any questions.

Last updated: February 4, 2022

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