If you had an older relative who fought in the Vietnam War, this memorial may hold extra significance for you, but it’s still impactful either way. Watching the list of names on the wall grow until the black granite towers above your head and then taper off gives a visceral sense of how many lives were lost. If there is a name that you are looking for on the wall, bring paper and a crayon to make a rubbing to take home.
“honoring those who served in Vietnam”
Deliberately setting aside the controversies of the war, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served when their Nation called upon them. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a unit of National Mall and Memorial Parks. This world famous memorial stands prominently on the National Mall just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. The park staff offers daily interpretive tours every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Located north of the Lincoln Memorial near the intersection of 22nd St. and Constitution Ave. NW, Vietnam Veterans Memorial is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day. The memorial includes the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. The memorial also includes "The Three Servicemen" statue and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
This is one of those places where everything just feels more important. There are people touching the memorial, people who can't bring themselves to look at it, and schoolchildren seeing it for the first time. It's really moving, even for my generation, and others that weren't around for the war.
I think the most special part of the memorial is that you can see your reflection as you look at the names. It touched me to see myself while looking at the names, it reminded me that their sacrifices were for me, and my freedom. Keep in mind that this is a place to be quiet and respectful. We went on the 4th of July and it was still extremely quiet. With all the craziness downtown on the 4th it was nice to have a place to be reflective and remember what we celebrate on the 4th.
Really a strange feeling when you are there. It's so aesthetically pleasing and at the same time reminds you of something so much deeper.
The memorial is simple and beautiful. Seeing people's emotional reaction to it really brings the gravity of the war to your heart. For those of us not alive during Vietnam, this place helps us understand the turbulent times. It should be included on anyone's first trip to DC.
I think the coolest thing about this memorial is how it starts off pretty short and then grows taller and taller until it's an overwhelming 10 feet tall, and then it tapers off again. It's definitely a powerful statement.
PRO TIP: Be respectful! Some woman was jogging through the memorial last time I was there a couple years ago and she got yelled at because it's clearly not designed to be a jogging route. There were people crying and leaving flowers, so keep that in mind.
There's a handy key to finding names on the memorial of your relatives who died in Vietnam. When we went here on a school trip we looked up the soldier after whom our elementary school was named, and we all took rubbings of his name. It was a pretty special moment.
A solemn reminder of those who gave their lives. Every day you'll see veterans visiting the memorial, weeping as they pay tribute to their fallen brothers in war.
Visiting the memorial will change you, regardless of your political views.
When visiting this site on a school trip, my group found a family member of a person in the group. We traced their name on a piece of paper and he then framed it. There where many people at this monument and everyone was entirely respectful, absolutely amazing.
My parents, both of whom grew up during the Vietnam War, told me about how much protesting was against it because of how many lives were lost. When you see the size of this wall, and how long and how high it is, you start realize that there were so many who gave their lives for this country, whether they agreed with the cause or not. It is very somber and definitely at the top of the must see list when you come to DC. There was also several veterans walking through here when I did, and part of me wanted to thank them for their service, but I decided not to because this may not be the right place as it seemed really hard for these guys just being here.
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Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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