March 23, 1998
By "The Vietnam War In Memory Memorial, Inc."
There are names that can only be imagined between the lines engraved on the shining black marble panels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Imagined, for the most part, by surviving family and friends of veterans who attribute the post-war loss of their loved ones to service in Southeast Asia. Among them, a consensus is building that formal recognition will extend the legendary healing quality of The Wall.
PREMATURE DEATHS --
Since the war ended, uncounted numbers of Americans who served their country in Vietnam have died prematurely. Typically, these losses are attributed to such cases as Agent Oranged-induced cancers and post traumatic stress. Official figures are not kept, according to the Veterans Administration and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Estimates range widely.
Many friends and family of these veterans are seeking to bridge the void they feel at The Wall by establishing a nonprofit corporation, "The Vietnam War In Memory Memorial, Inc." They hope to gain approval to place a 3X3-foot, ground-level plaque near the Memorial to recognize these war-related, premature deaths.
Retired Naval Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. supports what he terms this "important mission" and serves as a member of the group's advisory board.
Feelings run deep among survivors of the unsung casualties.
REMEMBERING VETERANS --
The "Vietnam War In Memory Memorial" Project was started independently of the "Friends," with a letter-writing campaign in June 1995 by Ruth Coder Fitzgerald of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her brother died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma attributed to exposure to Agent Orange.
There are many more people whose names will never be on memorials but whose lives ended prematurely after the war because of their service in Vietnam.
THE PLAQUE --
The organizers of "The Vietnam War In Memory Memorial, Inc." acknowledges that it would be impossible to name all the postwar casualties. The group adamantly believes, however, the proposed symbolic recognition, close to The Wall, on a three-foot-square plaque or tablet, level with the ground, is appropriate to Honor the Memory of these Americans. The group's goal is to reinforce the emotional healing power of The Wall without compromising its architectural integrity.
THE CHALLENGE --
Congressional endorsement is necessary for this project. After getting permission from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, several government commissions also must review the Memorial.
In order to obtain governmental approval, endorsements will be needed from many veterans groups as well as civic groups and private citizens. Please write veterans' groups, senators, and representatives and urge them to support our project.
Sample wording on the Memorial is "In memory of American veterans whose postwar deaths are attributed to their Vietnam War service. Their names are not inscribed here, but their spirits are ever present."
We need your help to make the "In Memory Memorial" plaque a reality. Persons seeking more information or to volunteer may contact:
Board of Directors: