Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Posted On November 30, 2009 

About the Monument

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national war memorial in Washington, D.C. It stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. It pays tribute to the members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War and who died in service or are still unaccounted for.

This is perhaps one of the most famous memorials in the world. The memorial caused a stir when it was first unveiled in 1982 because of its unusual, but profoundly beautiful design. The monument is dedicated to honor the “courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country” of all who answered the call to serve during the longest war in U.S. history.

The names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing are inscribed on the black granite wall. The veterans’ names are listed in chronological order of when the casualty occurred and an alphabetical directory helps visitors locate names. It is therefore not surprising that this monument receives an astounding 3 million visitors a year!

Vietnam Veterans Memorial


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was founded by Jan Scruggs. Jan served in Vietnam (in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade) from 1969-1970 as an infantry corporal. He got the inspiration of dedicating a memorial to the brave men who laid their lives serving the country after watching the film “The Deer Hunter” in 1979. It was Maya Lin, a Yale architectural student who submitted the winning design. Maya Lin’s drawing is one of 1,421 design-competition submissions. The designs have been documented in the Library of Congress as part of the Papers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Design Criteria

Basically there were four design criteria. They were as follows:

The design had to be reflective and contemplative in character,
The design should be in harmony with its surroundings,
The design should reflect the names of those who had died in the conflict or who were still missing, and The design should make no political statement about the war.

Judging the Design Entries

The judges included two landscape architects, two structural architects, an expert on urban development and landscape, and three sculptors. Paul D. Spreiregen served as competition professional adviser.

Construction of the Wall

The work on the site began March 16, 1982, five days after the design and plans received final Federal approval. Groundbreaking took place on March 26, 1982. The general contractor to oversee the construction work was The Gilbane Building Company. The Architectural firm of Cooper-Lecky Partnership supervised the construction.

The walls and landscaping were completed by November 1, 1982. Then all the three units i.e. the wall, the statue, and the flag were combined on November 11, 1984.

Three SoldiersThe Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF) officially transferred control of the Memorial to the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and it became a national monument. The now completed Vietnam Veterans Memorial was accepted by the President of the United States on November 10, 1984.

The Wall” as it often known as, was built in Constitution Gardens in Washington, D.C., through private donations from the public.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF) raised nearly $9,000,000 entirely through private contributions from corporations, foundations, unions, veterans and civic organizations and more than 275,000 individual Americans. No Federal funds were needed.

This Gallery also contains images and text about the Vietnam Women’s Memorial that stands near “The Wall”. This honors the military and civilian women who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War. Some of their names are inscribed alongside their brothers’ on “The Wall.” The Women’s Memorial is a life size bronze statue The sculpture depicts two women in uniform tending to the wounds of a male soldier while a third woman kneels nearby.

Visiting the Wall

It was in the year 2003 that the Congress authorized the construction of a Vietnam Memorial Visitors Center to be built on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Visitors Center will serve to educate visitors about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam War and will pay homage to all of the men and women who served in all of America’s wars.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall

The memorial is situated in Constitution Gardens and is also home to the famous Reflection Pools, the most famous of which is that east of the Lincoln Memorial often seen in photographs of the Washington Monument. These gardens also play host to a healthy population of grey squirrels. The gardens are quite safe and are open until midnight most nights.

Visiting Hours

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open to public 24 hours a day.  However Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm daily.

Getting There

Vietnam Veterans Memorial is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.  The memorial is situated on the western end of the National Mall, very close to the Lincoln Memorial in West Potomac Park. The memorial rests just north of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, across the Reflecting Pool.


Interstate 395 provides easy access to the Mall from the South. Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway provide access from the North. Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 provide access from the West. U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East.

Nearest Metro

Washington has a very good public transport system. The railway network particularly is very fast, efficient, and cheap. The nearest Metro station to this site is Foggy Bottom/George Washington University at 23rd and I Streets, NW; the station is just about 7/10 a mile from the memorial.


Washington is very tourist friendly, and many tourists tour the city on bicycle. Several major bicycle trails make their ways to and through Washington, D.C. T For detailed information about bicycle riding in the area, consult the Bicycling Information link.


Parking throughout the District of Columbia is restricted generally (check for individual area signs for site specific closures/restrictions) from 12:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. to facilitate cleaning and maintenance. Washington, D.C. is a very busy metropolitan area. Parking is at a premium throughout the entire city.

Handicapped Access

There is limited handicapped parking at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Fees and Reservations

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has no fees or reservations associated with a visit.

Climate in Washington

Washington has a temperate climate typical to the Mid-Atlantic U.S. It has four very distinct seasons. While Spring and Autumn are mild, and quite enjoyable, Summer tends to be very hot. Washington has cold winters, with occasional snowfalls and below freezing temperatures.

More than twenty-five years after its dedication, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial remains one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital with nearly 4 million visitors annually.

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