Vietnam Wall Turns 30 as Officials Plan Education Center
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2012 Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial groundbreaking here today, officials of the memorial's fund announced the development of an education center to inform younger generations about the war's history.
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey speaks to an audience about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and its soon-to-be built education center during a March 26, 2012, event kicking off a year-long observance of the memorial’s 30th anniversary. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a Vietnam veteran and chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund advisory board, said the center also will showcase a "Wall of Faces" of the lives lost during the war, just as the wall bears their names.
"The wall is not just for the [millions] of us who served, but also for the 300,000 or more who were wounded, the 58,000 who were killed, and all the pain that brought along with it [for] dads, mothers, brothers, friends," McCaffrey said. "It's an extraordinary achievement."
And the crux of the education center, he said, will be to connect service members' stories, families and experiences to the wall.
"It will also connect the other veterans from our other wars from the Revolutionary War all the way up to the unbelievable heroism and sacrifice of our service members who are still fighting in Afghanistan," he said.
"The Wall" is one of the most visited memorials in the nation's capital, added retired Army Brig. Gen. George Price, who also was an early supporter of the memorial and served in Vietnam.
Price said the American public owes knowledge of the Vietnam War to today’s children.
"We owe this center to our youngsters to bridge the gap between then and now," he said. "We need to make sure they understand that mistakes were made, good things were achieved, and most importantly, they must understand the sacrifices of service to the most important country in the world, the United States of America."
To preserve the legacy of the fallen, the center will offer exhibits such as:
-- "Telling Their Stories," to showcase military service taken from excerpts of letters and memories;
-- “The Wall of Faces," digital images of the more than 58,000 service members who are memorialized on the wall;
-- “The Legacy of Service," comprising images of service members who served in all the nation's wars through Iraq and Afghanistan; and
-- “The Artifacts Collection," which is expected to exhibit more than 120,000 personal items left at the wall by families and visitors.
The center also will provide other educational resources for information on the fallen, officials said.
The education center's groundbreaking is expected to take place sometime this year, amid other celebrations to take place all year along the National Mall to commemorate the memorial's 30 years, Memorial Fund officials said.