Shown above. Top and top left,
Gold Star pins. Top right, Sons (daughters) in Service pins, Veterans of
Foreign Wars, American Legion, Cooties, Airborne, and Veterans Administration.
(photo courtesy of
HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS
was established by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF), the
nonprofit, charitable organization incorporated on April 27, 1979, by a group
of Vietnam veterans led by Jan C. Scruggs, a wounded and decorated
infantryman, from Bowie, Maryland. VVMF wanted Vietnam veterans to have a
tangible symbol of recognition from the American people. By separating the
issue of the service of the individual men and women from the issue of U.S.
policy in Vietnam, VVMF hoped to begin a process of national reconciliation.
Significant initial support came from U.S. Senators Charles McC. Mathias, Jr.,
(R-Md.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.). On Nov. 8, 1979, Sen. Mathias introduced
legislation to authorize a site of national park land for the memorial. The
first significant financial contributions to launch the national fundraising
campaign were raised by Sen. Warner. More than $8,000,000 was raised, all of
which came from private sources. Corporations, foundations, unions, veterans
groups and civic organizations contributed, but most importantly, more than
275,000 individual Americans donated the majority of the money needed to build
the Memorial. On July 1, 1980, Congress authorized a site of three acres in
Constitution Gardens near the Lincoln Memorial. In October of that year, VVMF
announced a national design competition open to any U.S. citizen over 18 years
of age. By Dec. 29, 1980, there were 2,573 registrants, and the competition
became the largest of its kind ever held in the United States. By the March
31, 1981 deadline, 1,421 design entries had been submitted. All entries were
judged anonymously by a jury of eight internationally recognized artists and
designers who had been selected by VVMF. On May 1, 1981, the jury presented
its unanimous selection for first prize, which was accepted and adopted
enthusiastically by VVMF. The winning design was the work of Maya Ying Lin of
Athens, Ohio, a 21-year-old senior at Yale University. In August of 1981, VVMF
selected a building company and architecture firm to develop the plans and
build Lin's design. Lin became a design consultant to the architect of record.
On March 11, 1982, the design and plans received final federal approval, and
work at the site was begun on March 16, 1982. Ground was formally broken on
Friday, March 26, 1982.
This page is
dedicated to the memory of the more than 58,000 who died in Vietnam.
"And we'll get on our knees and
pray--We don't get fooled again!"