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Vietnam Veterans Memorials | Monuments and Ceremonies to Honor Our War Heroes

Updated on July 21, 2015
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. | Source

In Honor & In Memory of Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam veterans are the only group of combat veterans in the history of the United States who returned home only to be shunned, and dubbed "baby killers". All other veterans have been welcomed home with open arms, and seen as heroes.

According to the Department of Defense, 2,709,918 men and women served in uniform in the Vietnam War. Of these, 58,260 were killed in Vietnam, while another 304,000 were wounded. According to these statistics, 1 out of 10 Americans who served were casualties of the Vietnam War.

Generations of Americans, many of who are too young to remember, need to learn the truth about the Vietnam War, and in turn, honor this group of heroic people. One way to do this is to visit one of the Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Washington, D.C., or The Wall That Heals, when it comes to your community.

No event in American history

is more misunderstood

than the Vietnam War.

It was misreported then,

and it is misremembered now.

---Richard M. Nixon

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Source

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

"The Wall" of Honor

My husband served with the 1st Cavalry and 82nd Airborne divisions in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. He was one of the lucky ones, because he came home. More than 58,000 service men & women did not, and it is to those who the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated. Not only is it a memorial to those who died, or are listed as missing-in-action while serving in the Vietnam War, it is for us to honor and remember them.

The Wall is made up of polished black granite, with a mirror-like surface that reflects the surrounding trees, lawns & monuments. The names are inscribed in the order of their casualty date, which shows the names as a series of individual human sacrifices and gives each a special place in history of the war.

There are no words to describe the feeling when seeing all 58,260 names on The Wall. Whether or not you know someone listed, there is something that emanates from The Wall, that beckons you to touch it.

It is quite moving to see all the things that people leave at The Wall. Offerings are left daily, and include items such as flowers, flags, medals, uniforms, dog tags, stuffed animals, poems, pictures, birthday cards, and cigarettes.

The National Park Service collects all the items every night, and inventories them. These objects now number more than 150,000 pieces, and are stored at the Museum Resource Center in Maryland. I would love to see this collection of memorials and tributes, and get to know the stories behind them.

2012 was the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Wall That Heals
Wall That Heals | Source

The Wall That Heals

Also known as "The Traveling Wall"

The Wall that Heals, at 250 feet long, is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was created as a service to those who might never travel to Washington, D.C. to experience the Vietnam Veterans Memorial firsthand. It is the only traveling replica that is directly affiliated with Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. So far, it has traveled to 350 communities throughout America. I had the opportunity to visit it when it came to my county.

Although quite a bit smaller than the one in DC, this one still has the same profound effect on those who visit it. It is incredibly moving to see all the thousands of names inscribed on it, even if you don't know anyone on it. My husband was a Vietnam Veteran, and he tried to visit it. It was just too much for him emotionally, and he had to leave.

Along with The Wall That Heals is a traveling museum, with pictures & stories of some of the men & women who served & paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War. The museum has some of the letters, memorabilia and other items that have been left at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.. It also has photos and biographical info on some of the individuals whose names are on The Wall. There are also displays and maps chronicling the history of The Wall and Vietnam War.

An information tent is connected to the museum trailer. It is staffed by volunteers with computers who will help you search for names on The Wall That Heals. I had them look for a buddy of my husband's, and they quickly printed out the name and wall location for me. They can also provide you with information on veterans' issues or answer other questions.

Reading of the Names

Anniversary Ceremony At The Wall

The Reading of the Names ceremony is a solemn occasion that provides us a time to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who did not return from the Vietnam War. The names of these over 58,000 service members is read out loud by volunteers from all over the country. Hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Reading of the Names takes 65 hours over four days. The names are read chronologically by casualty date.

The most recent Reading of the Names took place November 7-11, 2012. There have been only 4 other times in The Wall's history that the Reading of the Names has taken place. The first was in November 1982, at Washington National Cathedral as part of a week-long National Salute to Vietnam Veterans. The three other times were for the 10th Anniversary celebration in November 1992, the 20th Anniversary celebration in 2002 and the 25th Anniversary celebration in 2007.

Reading of the Names Video - 25th & 30th Anniversaries of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

''I think the names that are being read are of men who died for freedom just as surely as any man who ever fought for this country.'' -- Ronald Reagan

In Memory Plaque
In Memory Plaque | Source

In Memory Day & Plaque

The Wall only honors those veterans who died during their service. But many Vietnam veterans die prematurely as a result of the war, and cannot be included on The Wall. Post-traumatic stress disorder, Agent Orange exposure, and other injuries and diseases, attributed to their service, must be acknowledged as well.

Vietnam Veterans who died after their service in Vietnam are honored on Flag Day in June at the "In Memory" event. This event is to pay tribute to the sacrifices both veterans and their families have endured both during and after the war.

During this event, the names of those who died are read aloud. At the conclusion of the event, certificates and other tributes of these honorees are placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Later, the National Park Service collects these items, and stores them in a permanent archive.

My husband was honored on June 14, 2012, and June 20, 2015 on "In Memory" day. His death was a result of his Agent Orange exposure, which along with PTSD, caused him great suffering for 38 years. It is only fitting - and just - that he is remembered along with his fellow soldiers.

To learn more about the In Memory Day event, visit this site.

In Memory Day Event

Thank A Veteran

I urge you, whether or not you agree with war, to thank a veteran every time you see one. It only takes you a minute of your time to acknowledge a veteran, while the appreciation of the gesture will last a great deal longer.

Have you visited any of these Vietnam Veterans memorials?

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    • amandascloset0 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! We all owe them so much more than just a simple thank you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @Country-Sunshine: Have you heard on Honor Flight? Its worth checking out.

      Merry Christmas and God Bless!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for sharing this article, and reminding us of how blessed we are with such wonderful soldiers.

    • Country-Sunshine profile imageAUTHOR

      Country Sunshine 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @anonymous: Thank you for the kind comments, Tipi, and for the addition to your articles. It's so important that all veterans be remembered and honored. The older generations realize this, but so many of the younger ones don't. It is up to us to teach them that it's not about war, but about the people who paid the sacrifices.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for this very personal honoring of Vietnam veterans, I agree that we must honor those who lost their lives in war and those who lost so much of their lives to the effects of war, as your husband did with the complications of Agent Orange exposure and PTSD. I've already added this to my Veterans of War USA and my Support Our Troops and Veterans lenses, thank you.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Yes, I have some very cool photos. I am sad of the way these veterans were treated. They made a big deal when we came back from Desert Storm (I am a vet) but I always told people to take their praise to a Vietnam vet who suffered much more than we did. Blessed.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      8 years ago

      You have created a wonderful tribute here.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      I've been to the memorial in D.C. and also saw the traveling memorial. Thanks for remembering our soldiers.

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I have had the honor of visiting these memorials, and was awestruck! If you aren't moved by the Wall, then you certainly will be by those who are visiting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Moving tribute, and I am so sorry for your loss.

    • ForEverProud profile image

      Jeanne Rene 

      9 years ago from Northern California

      What a wonderful, wonderful lens. Thank you so much for creating it and sharing it with us all. It is very important that the generations that follow know the truth about our Vietnam Veterans. I'll share a little story with you ... Last Sunday,my husband and I went grocery shopping and while I was off in another isle, my husband told me that a lady came up to him and asked, "Did you serve in Vietnam?" When he answered her that he served as a combat engineer, he said she took his hand and shook it and then gave him a hug and thanked him for serving and said she was sorry that the returning Vietnam Vets did not receive a welcome when they came home. When I caught up with him, he was kind of standing there in shock and was looking at his shirt and what he had on ... trying to figure out if he had worn anything today that said he was a Vet ... he hadn't. I told him he just has that look about him. Later when we had put our groceries in the car and my husband was taking the cart back ... I saw a man approach him and say "next time you talk to your son, tell him thank you from me" ... he shook my husband's hand and walked off. We have a Marine Corps decal and Proud Marine Corp Parents bumper sticker on the back of the car. I'm happy for my husband. :)

      I am adding your link to Vietnam Veterans Memorials to my lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was at the 1982 National salute and dedication of the Wall. I returned for the Dedication of the Three Soldiers. I Missed the Nurses Memorial dedication, but I've returned every 5-10 years since then,, I plan on attending the 30th Anniversary oin Nov., 2012..

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      We have visited the Vietnam Memorial a few times. The first time, we looked for my husband's uncle's name, that was years ago, and it wasn't there...we were disappointed but found that he was killed en route to Viet Nam, a crash...he was a helicopter pilot to and from, not sure if he was shot down. In more recent visits, we have set that aside, and taken time to appreciate all the lives that were lost during this difficult and misunderstood war. Thank you for taking the time to do this page, *blessed*.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I live in the Washington DC area, so I'm a visitor to "the Wall" on occasion and also photograph the final honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

      Many of my adopted "brothers" served in 'Nam and I'm honored to be adopted by them. Most recently I have become acquainted with the sister of Keith Allan Campbell who was KIA while saving the life of one of his fellow Soldiers while they were in Vietnam. SPC Campbelll is on the Wall and is at rest in ANC in Section 53

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I so agree with your thoughts, I too am a Vietnam Veteran, 69-70, this was another war where there was no Victory, just gave it away, just like many of the battles.

    • Country-Sunshine profile imageAUTHOR

      Country Sunshine 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @gypsyman27 lm: One of the great things about America is that we can have different opinions, and not be jailed (or worse) for voicing them. Another great thing is that we live in a land of freedom, & have so many people who are willing to fight for it. I don't have to tell you that 2/3 of the men & women who served in Vietnam were volunteers. (Unlike WWII, where 2/3 were drafted). While I won't discuss the politics of war, I feel that there is indeed honor for those who have fought for our country - whether or not they (or us) feel it is right or wrong. They should be honored with a memorial or cemetery or even a national holiday. That is what this topic is about. I appreciate your comments & also how you feel about the war. Thank you so much for stopping by & voicing your opinions!

    • profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 

      9 years ago

      I am a Vietnam veteran, I flew missions for the Air Force in 1971. I was injured for life in that conflict and I don't feel any honor in that. We were fighting a war that was not necessary for the US to fight. There have been many more since then, witness the Bush family's campaign to destroy Saddam Hussien. Sorry, I think your lens is great and you have researched your topic well. I simply cannot feel any sense of patriotism for what we did in Vietnam. Your work is well received, however. See you around the galaxy...

    • profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      9 years ago

      I haven't but I'm sure it's a very emotional experience, Blessed


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