5 Lesser Known Facts on The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC

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5 Facts on The Vietnam Veterans Memorial You Need

With more than 4 million visitors each year, the Veterans Memorial is a tribute to those who fought in Vietnam. Here are 5 lesser known facts you need.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located in Washington D.C., was revealed on November 13, 1982. The monument is a one-of-a-kind commemoration to those we’ve lost.

The memorial includes the names of more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers who perished during the Vietnam War.

At the memorial, you won’t find patriotic or heroic symbols. There are no flowing flags or bald eagles.

Instead, you’ll find a somber memorial that is simplistic yet striking. The black granite is a stark contrast to the commonly found white marble statues. The aura surrounding the memorial is quiet and reflective.

Are you one of the 3 million people who visits the memorial each year? Do you think you know everything there is to know about the memorial?

We’re here to shock you! Here are five lesser known facts about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

#1. Personally Funded

Unlike most memorials, no government funds were used to build the memorial.

The idea of the memorial came from Jan C. Scruggs, a wounded Vietnam Vet. In 1979, Jan used $2,800 of his money to create a fund for the memorial.

Legislation was passed to remove existing structures to make room for the memorial. Eventually, the fund raised more than $8.4 million.

View this video of Fallen Never Forgotten’s Author Ronny Ymbras meeting with Jan Scruggs on Memorial Day 2016

#2. Designed by a College Student

The fund decided that the Veterans Memorial must:

  • Contain all names of Americans who died or remained missing in action during Vietnam
  • Make no political statement
  • Be contemplative
  • Harmonize with surrounding structures

With those guidelines, the fund opened a design contest.

More than 1,400 memorial designs were submitted. The winning design was anonymously submitted by a 21-year-old college student at Yale University.

The winner, Maya Lin, has designed other notable memorials, including the Civil Rights Memorial.

3. The Design is Intricate

The Veterans Memorial is not as simple as it looks.

The memorial contains two walls, both of which are 246.75 feet long and 10.1 feet high. Together the walls form a 125-degree angle.

The western wall points towards the Lincoln Memorial. The eastern wall points towards the Washington Monument. The walls are made from black granite.

#4. The Details Are in the Names

Each name on the memorial has a diamond or a cross. A diamond represents that the military member died in action. A cross determines that the person is still missing in action.

#5. Names are Continuously Added

When the memorial was first created, it included the names of 57,939 American military members. Almost three decades later, the number of names has jumped to 58,318 as of 2017.

Names can only be added to the memorial when it’s been determined that a veteran died because of the war. Criteria mandates that postwar casualities are honored with a plaque versus an inscription on the memorial.

Everything You Need to Know About Vietnam Veteran Memorials

Want to learn more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in DC? Looking to boost your knowledge about other lesser known Vietnam memorials?

If so, now is the time to pick up Fallen Never Forgotten. The book, written by Ronny Ymbras, provides in-depth knowledge about the various Vietnam War memories within the United States.

Fallen Never Forgotten covers more than 50 memorials and includes professional pictures of each one.

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