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Has the Vietnam War Memorial lost some of its respectability since its creation?


TOPIC: It should first be pointed out that the Vietnam War Memorial, despite the Vietnam War being smaller in scope and concentration of casualties during the much shorter in duration World War II and Korean Wars, preceded their memorial installation on the National Mall.

Once known as "The most visited National Park Service fixture in our Nation's capitol", (due to the various changes in civil rights laws and loss of some protections such as Habeas Corpus over the past six years), The Vietnam War Memorial is gradually losing its status back to the Lincoln Memorial which is regaining its formerly held permanent rank as the "most visited" memorial in Washington, DC.) The Vietnam War Memorial is believed by some to have lost some of its respectability since its creation in 1981. (NOTE: In a survey of national memorials depicted in military, war and other films since 1982, the Lincoln Memorial has been used by Hollywood producers and filmmakers instead of the Vietnam War Memorial. Since the establishment of the Vietnam War Memorial, not a single Hollywood movie [with the exception of "To Heal A Nation", has included footage of the Vietnam War Memorial in a feature film. To date, not a single Hollywood actor who has established himself in character as a 'Vietnam veteran' has participated in any film project that includes the Vietnam War Memorial either in prominent or background film footage.)

The Vietnam War Memorial, established by Vietnam Veteran Jan C. Scruggs, has been an evolving and often turbulent fixture in the hearts and minds of Vietnam war veterans... the second fastest diminishing veterans segment in America. (2.7 to 3.1 million Americans served in Vietnam. It is estimated that fewer than 850,000 are alive today. Because of herbicide ingestion and refusal by the Veterans Administration over the past thirty years to full access to VA medical services, middle-aged Vietnam veterans are dying at the same rate as their senior-aged World War II elders.)

Since its inception, The Vietnam War Memorial suffered attacks, not from the anti-Vietnam War community but from hostile Vietnam Veterans who were opposed either to its overall creation or some aspect of its design, function or representation. Some Vietnam vets felt that they, even though they never conceived an idea of establishing a national memorial for the Vietnam War, felt that they and not Jan Scruggs were better qualified to lead the project. Some Vietnam vets who membered organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan were diametrically opposed to The Memorial being fashioned in black marble, white marble was their choice. Some anti-Asian Vietnam vets opposed the idea of awarding the design contract to non-Anglo artist, while anti-female Vietnam vets felt that a male, rather than a woman should design The Wall.

Then, shortly after The Wall was established, a group of Vietnam vets who believed that Infantry service in Vietnam was more representative of the Vietnam War than any other military profession even though the Infantry military profession does not represent the largest category of Americans who died in Vietnam, successfully petitioned to have a second Vietnam War Memorial established representing "grunts" who served in Vietnam. Accordingly, Vietnam War female vets who felt they were being slighted by the new all-male Three Servicemen Statue Vietnam War memorial -- despite the fact their deceased were listed on The Wall and only eight women died in Vietnam during its twenty-year course -- successfully petitioned to have a third Vietnam War Memorial established. (NOTE: Unlike the fact that infantrymen did not represent the largest number of Vietnam War deaths, all eight of the American women who died in Vietnam were medical service professionals... hence, their "Nurse/Caregiver" statue is indisputably appropriate.)

The inauguration ceremony of The Vietnam War Memorial was ignored by then president Ronald Wilson Reagan and his Vice President, George Herbert Walker Bush, on the grounds they were too busy with more important matters to attend. (General William C. Westmoreland was the highest ranking government official to attend the ceremony [Four-star generals/admirals maintain a special, permanent government status as presidential/Department of Defense advisors/representative on all military and veterans affairs.])

Over the past twenty-five years the Vietnam War Memorial has undergone many revisions... some of those revisions involved the removal of names (fewer than three dozen) that were mistakenly listed in 1981 due to faulty casualty records. But the largest number of revisions have been the addition of many names... a few who died in Vietnam but weren't known at the time of The Wall's inauguration... but many more names of men who died long after the war. Which is why this survey is being conducted.

Some Vietnam vets are now of the opinion that The Vietnam War Memorial is being exploited, either for financial or publicity reasons by adding new names of Vietnam veterans who did not die in Vietnam.

Other Vietnam vets are incensed that the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund, which administrates The Vietnam War Memorial, has not done enough to re-establish a Vietnam War casualty into the Tomb of the Unknowns... or, at the very least, a Marker in The Tomb of the Unknowns representing a Vietnam War casualty who's death and identity will never be resolved because almost two thousands known Vietnam War casualties remain unaccounted for.

QUESTION 1/4: Do you believe that a Vietnam veteran who came home from the war, got married, enjoyed making children, enjoyed Holidays with those children, but who later died as a result of on-going medical problems that originated from a Vietnam War wound is the same as a death of someone who died in Vietnam and never got to enjoy any moment at home after his or her mortal wounding?

    Yes, whether or not someone died in Vietnam or many years later from a Vietnam war wound makes no difference.

    Yes, but only if that person never regained any opportunity to live even a semblance of normal life and was perpetually hospitalized since the war.

    No, those who died in Vietnam and never came home are the ones who are truly deserving of listing on The Vietnam War Memorial

QUESTION 2/4: Did you ever see the movie about the origin of The Vietnam War Memorial, "To Heal A Nation". And if so, what was your opinion of the movie with regard to the struggle to establish The Vietnam War Memorial?

    Yes, I saw that movie. I was impressed by Jan Scruggs' determination. Obviously, God wanted Scruggs to survive the war to ensure all those deaths would never be forgotten.

    Yes, I saw that movie. I felt another veteran was more deserving to take over the building of The Vietnam War Memorial

    No, I never saw the movie, but I would like to see it. (I will ask Turner Classic Movies to air it over the Veteran's Day Weekend.)

    No, I never saw the movie and I don't care to see it.

QUESTION 3/4: Should President Bush or a current candidate for president advocate for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to contain a 'marker' representing the over 1,900 MIAs still unaccounted from the Vietnam War?


QUESTION 4/4: The American War Library (Established on Independence Day, 04 July 1988), is our Nation's and our world's oldest and largest online repository of military participants (from many nations) dating back to before our Revolutionary War. The War Library has worked to clarify the names of Americans who served in Vietnam by confirming verified Vietnam vets who were not listed in the Department of Defense's Vietnam War Service Index used in 1980 to compile the list of Vietnam War casualties used to by The Vietnam War Memorial Fund to create The Vietnam War Memorial. The War Library has also helped individual researchers, organizations, public official and employers to identify Vietnam War impostors. If you are a Vietnam vet, have you verified that your name is listed in the Department of Defense's Official Vietnam War Service Index?


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