USA — Education Center to Enhance Vietnam Veterans Memorial

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2010 — A major fundrais­ing effort is under way to build an under­ground edu­ca­tion cen­ter next to the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al here that’ll place faces and sto­ries with the names etched in the smooth, black gran­ite known sim­ply as, “The Wall.”

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vis­its with U.S. Marine and Viet­nam vet­er­an Sgt. Paul Masi at the annu­al Memo­r­i­al Day obser­vance cer­e­mo­ny at the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., May 31, 2010. A new edu­ca­tion cen­ter to be built near the memo­r­i­al will put faces and sto­ries to the names on “The Wall” and pre­serve their lega­cy for future gen­er­a­tions.
DoD pho­to by Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

“There is mag­ic in that wall with its 58,000 names,” said retired Army Gen. Col­in Pow­ell, hon­orary chair­man for the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund’s edu­ca­tion cen­ter cam­paign. “We want to make sure those names nev­er become anony­mous to future gen­er­a­tions.”

As it keeps their mem­o­ries alive, Pow­ell said the cen­ter also will “pay trib­ute to all gen­er­a­tions of GIs who answer the call to serve.”

The edu­ca­tion cen­ter, as envi­sioned by Jan Scrug­gs, founder and pres­i­dent of the Memo­r­i­al Fund, will pro­vide inter­ac­tive exhibits and pri­ma­ry source mate­ri­als to help vis­i­tors bet­ter under­stand the pro­found impact of the Viet­nam War on ser­vice­mem­bers’ fam­i­lies, their com­mu­ni­ties and home­towns and the nation. Planned exhibits include a “Wall of Faces,” to fea­ture pho­tos of those lost in Viet­nam and a gallery of the more than 100,000 items left in trib­ute at the memorial’s wall since 1982.

Retired Army Gen. Bar­ry A. McCaf­frey, VVMF’s advi­so­ry board chair­man, said the cen­ter will ensure that the mem­o­ry of those who made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in Viet­nam lives on.

“This mov­ing under­ground facil­i­ty will pay trib­ute to our vet­er­ans and will edu­cate the pub­lic about these hon­or­able men and women who gave their lives for their coun­try,” he said. Scrug­gs expressed hope that the cen­ter will help vis­i­tors to under­stand the impor­tance of the Viet­nam Memo­r­i­al Wall and the role it con­tin­ues to play in heal­ing the phys­i­cal, emo­tion­al and soci­etal wounds left by the war.

Con­struc­tion of the cen­ter will cost $85 mil­lion, all to be raised through pri­vate dona­tions. So far, near­ly $25 mil­lion in pledges has been raised, with dona­tions from cor­po­ra­tions, orga­ni­za­tions, vet­er­ans groups and indi­vid­u­als. Major donors include: Time-Warn­er Inc.; the Heis­ley Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion; Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars; Peter M. and Julian­na Hawn Holt; Lock­heed Mar­tin Corp.; Boe­ing Com­pa­ny; FedEx Corp.; and the Tawani Foun­da­tion.

Peter Holt, own­er of the San Anto­nio Spurs Nation­al Bas­ket­ball Asso­ci­a­tion team, promised his fel­low Tex­ans to match up to $1 mil­lion in their dona­tions. “Raise a mil­lion and I’ll match it,” he chal­lenged.

The His­to­ry Chan­nel recent­ly announced a $10,000 con­tri­bu­tion to the cam­paign as it also helps the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund get teach­ing mate­ri­als about the Viet­nam War into America’s class­rooms. The His­to­ry Chan­nel is help­ing VVMF dis­trib­ute “Home­town Heroes,” an edu­ca­tion­al guide designed to help teach­ers and stu­dents iden­ti­fy Viet­nam vet­er­ans and fam­i­ly mem­bers with­in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“Edu­ca­tion is at the core of VVMF’s mis­sion,” Scrug­gs said. “Every­thing we do, from teacher train­ing to build­ing an edu­ca­tion cen­ter on the Nation­al Mall, is geared toward fos­ter­ing a deep­er knowl­edge of the Viet­nam War and those who served.”

Scrug­gs expressed his appre­ci­a­tion for the gen­er­ous mon­e­tary sup­port received so far, adding he’s con­fi­dent that it will con­tin­ue until reach­ing the $85 mil­lion mark.

“As peo­ple begin to learn about the edu­ca­tion cen­ter, we know they will find ways to help us build it,” he said. “It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to tell the sto­ries behind every name on ‘The Wall,’ and to hon­or all of those who have served and those who will serve this great coun­try in the future.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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