Today’s post is an example of how research can lead to unintended treasures. I began my journey by learning about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.. Ground was broken for the Memorial on March 26, 1982. We have Jan Scruggs (199th Light Infantry Brigade) to thank for the wall. After his service from 1969-1970, he became interested in memorializing the sacrifices of all who served in Vietnam. The purpose of the Wall is to honor all of those who service rather than only those who gave their lives in service. In a shining example of the charitable nature of Americans, almost nine million dollars was raised by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. No federal funds were used to construct the Memorial. The structure of the Memorial was determined by winning entries in a national competition. Maya Lin designed the Wall itself. Federick Hart designed the sculpture of “Three Servicemen.” There are more than 58,000 names on the Wall. The Wall became a national monument, and was accepted by President Reagan, on November 10, 1984. You can donate to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which continues to raise funds for new projects such as an Education Center at the Wall, here: https://donate.vvmf.org/page/contribute/donate-to-the-vvmf. A repilica of the Wall, approximately half of the size of the Memorial Wall itself, was created and currently tours the country. Scheduled dates for the Moving Wall can be found at: http://www.themovingwall.org.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has a phenomenal website associated with it that is well worth a visit. It is located at: http://thewall-usa.com/index.asp. The Wall-USA, otherwise known as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Page, is maintained by veterans of the 4th Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment. It is supported by public donations, although the group is not seeking additional donations at this time. The website includes a variety of searchable information including the names inscribed on the Memorial’s Wall, birth and death dates of those on the wall, and a guestbook. It also has a wealth of information about Medal of Honor recipients, women listed on the Wall, and casualty summaries.
One of the pages attached to thewall-use.com was listed as “Bracelet Exchange.” I remember wearing a POW/MIA bracelet for many years as a child. Carol Bates Brown, who was the National Chairman of the POW/MIA Bracelet Campaign for Voices in Vital America, provided an interesting history of the project. Although that project stopped in 1976, after distributing more than five million bracelets, I found a link for purchasing memorial bracelets at the bottom of that page. Intrigued, I visited memorialbracelets.com. This group is dedicated to honoring victims of terrorist attacks, military causalities in a variety of campaigns and incidents, and POW/MIA’s as well. $2.00 of every product purchased is donated to a list of support organizations which includes Fisher House, Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, and The Twin Towers Orphan Fund. A complete list of the supported charities can be found at: http://www.memorialbracelets.com/template.php?pid=14
I decided to purchase three dog tags. The first was to honor Todd Beamer, one of the passengers of Flight 93, whose famous statement, “Let’s roll” echoes the bravery demonstrated by victims and first responders on 9/11/01. The second was to honor Sargent Joshua R. Ashley who gave his life last year as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The third was a customized bracelet to honor Captain Mary Therese Klinger who gave her life evacuating Vietnamese orphans during Operation Baby Lift. The dog tags will hang in my office as a reminder to never forget those brave individuals. It was quite an experience deciding upon the individuals I would honor, and I plan to order more dog tags or bracelets in the future.
What an adventure! Join me in pledging to never forget those who have given their lives to protect our freedom, who have served our country, or who have paid the ultimate price as a result of terrorists acts. Remember them in prayer. Thank them in person. Support charities that support and honor them.