FORTY YEARS AGO, November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was dedicated during a week-long national tribute to all veterans. The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Lin, was dedicated to more than 58,000 Americans who died or were listed as missing in the Vietnam War.
After the design was made public some people tried to block the construction of the wall claiming the V where the two walls meet were coded peace signs. They failed, and from the start, the public embraced the memorial. Today it is the most-visited monument in Washington.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is near the Potomac River between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The land around the memorial is grassy and open like a park. It is a place for people to remember the servicemen and servicewomen who died in the Vietnam War.
More than 2.7 million served in the war. These soldiers were very young. Many were only 19 years old. The average age of those listed on the wall is 22.
Visitors began leaving tokens of remembrances at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, while it was still under construction. Flags, medals, and flowers have decorated veterans’ monuments, but the presence of many other mementos is unique to this memorial.
Visitors have left more than 150,00 keepsakes. They are collected daily by National Park Service rangers and stored at the Museum Resource Center in Landover, Maryland. This unsolicited outpouring occurs year round, but particularly at Veterans Day, Christmas, Memorial Day, and July 4. The gifts also commemorate birthdays of the dead and missing veterans and other days of personal importance.
On the shining black wall are the names of six Ocean City servicemen: Willie E. Granger (Panel 49W, Line 4), John C. Martin (Panel 41E, Line 11), Bruce M. Miley (Panel 40W, Line 13), Jon R. Morvay (Panel 28E, Line 56), Charles W. Sterling (Panel 4W, Line 98), and Robert A. Woodrow (Panel 23E, Line 8). Two men from Tuckahoe who went to Ocean City High School are William R. Godfrey (Panel 41E, Line 61), and George F. Long (Panel 63W, Line 18).
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