From a distance, “The Wall” is made of black granite from India and designed to look like a “laceration” in the ground. On the Wall are names etched on a reflective canvas that lists in chronological order service men and woman from 1959 until 1975.
There is an east wall that points symbolically to the Father of the United States, George Washington (Monument). The west wall points which also includes 70 panels to the Preserver of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
There are books located all around the memorial which lists the fallen and missing in alphabetical order which lists the servicemen and women names, state of origin, military rank and branch, and date of death. Most importantly the books list the “address” on the wall which list over 58,300 names.
A short distance from the Vietnam Veterans memorial is a bronze statue named “The Three Servicemen” which shows the youthfulness of the military during the Vietnam conflict. The average age of a serviceman was 19 during the war.
Mai Lin, an architect student from Yale, designed the memorial at 21 years old. All entries were examined by each juror, the entries were narrowed to 232, then 39. Finally, the jury selected entry number 1026 designed by the young Chinese-American from Ohio.
June 8, 1956, the first official death in Vietnam was a United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard Fitzgiggon, Jr of the Stoneham, Ma who was murdered by another U.S.F.A airman.
The Women’s Memorial is south of the Wall which was designed by Glenna Goodacre. This statue was designed to show the “Hope, Faith, and Charity” of the nurses that served in Vietnam.
With no thought of glory, with no fanfare or public notice – 265,000 women volunteered to go where they were needed, to do what was needed. The era was known as Vietnam, and these young women, most in their 20s, risked their lives to care for our country's wounded and dying. Their humanity and compassion equalled their lifesaving and comforting skills
Much of the impetus behind the non-profit organization to establish the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was done by a veteran named Jane Scruggs, inspired by the movie, Deer Hunter and 8.4 million was raised by private funds.
May 4, 2010, Six names were added to the Wall during a ceremony for any new names added who died after the war as a direct result of injuries suffered in the War. There are 750 names still on the Wall that are MIA which is symbolized by a simple cross next to each name on the Wall.