The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is marking its 30th anniversary this month. The black granite wall is symbolic of the dark and divisive war. All of the names on the wall were read this past week, a rarity because it’s only the fifth time it’s ever been done.
For 65 hours, all 58,282 names were read. A solemn drumbeat accompanied the names of the dead and missing from the Vietnam War. Two-thousand volunteers signed up to read and for some it was very personal.
“My baby brother, Stanley R. Smith,” read Rosalind Myers. “We called him ‘Butchie’ and he was 19 years old.
Myers, of Rockville, lost her baby brother in 1966. He was killed just weeks after he got to Vietnam.
“I just want to remember my brother,” she says, “to honor him and to celebrate his life.”
They came from all over the country to read even just a page or two.
“Somebody they saw killed, someone in their family who they lost,” says Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “This is a part of their healing process.”
Anyone can read the names. You don’t have to have served in Vietnam or lost a family member, but even those who didn’t say they just want to honor those who did.
Veronica Kazaitis’ father actually came home alive.
“He might not be on the wall, but it means a lot to read the people that he served with,” she says.
Jeffery Manley doesn’t know anyone on the wall.
“I consider it hallowed ground so when I asked I couldn’t turn it down,” he says.
Their voices give a voice to the fallen and makes them real.
“I’m just glad there’s a place to come and I just want to know that they were loved. Those persons who are on that wall were loved.”