Unlike some may believe, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, DC was not paid for with government funds. The Wall was built using privately donated funds to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which was started in 1979. Since its dedication in 1982, The Wall has become a site of individual grief and public mourning. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is now working with the National Park Service to spearhead the campaign to raise the nearly $115 million needed to build the Education Center at The Wall. The Education Center at The Wall will be located on the National Mall, across the street from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street.
When completely funded and built, the Education Center at The Wall will put a face to every one of the more than 58,000 names listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It will also display some of the hundreds of thousands of items left at the wall which are currently being stored in a facility in Maryland. The Education Center at The Wall will also tell the story of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
The Education Center at The Wall will be a two-story underground facility which will be built in keeping with the design, tone, and mood of The Wall. Each floor will feature a rich multimedia experience.
There are four main exhibits in the Education Center at The Wall:
1- The Legacy of Service
Introduces visitors to the long tradition of service to the country, from the Revolutionary War to the present day. It gives context to the Vietnam War by placing it in a historical continuum and honors all who have answered the call to duty.
2- The Wall of Faces
The Education Center will put a face to every name on The Wall by presenting a portrait of each service member. This tribute to the fallen honors their sacrifice and the values they embodied. The exhibit also recognizes soldiers who served in more recent American conflicts, expanding the tribute to other generations.
3- The Collection
At the Center’s core is a display of thousands of objects left at the Wall, ranging from letters to articles carried in the field of battle. These emotionally powerful objects speak of loss and grief but also celebrate the bonds of love, friendship, and memory across generations. Through the objects, visitors grasp the web of lives affected by war. The collection as a whole documents the nation’s path to reconciliation and gratitude, and the evolving meaning of The Wall itself.
4- The Timeline
The Timeline is a unique telling of one of the most divisive moments in U.S. history. The visitor is immersed in a rich multimedia experience, as their curiosity transports them from the battlefront to the homefront and back again. This exhibit will also show the homecoming experience in vivid detail and remind us that the treatment Vietnam veterans received should never happen again.
To learn more about making a donation to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to help fund the construction of the Education Center at The Wall, visit https://donate.vvmf.org/page/contribute/build-the-education-center