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The Story Behind The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, at the memorial. (AP)

By: Alex Ashlock

Decades ago, he helped to raise the money to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Today, Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, is trying to raise the money needed to build an education center near The Wall.

Jan Scruggs at age 19 serving in Vietnam. (Courtesy Jan Scruggs)

It’s part of the organization’s continuing mission to honor, educate and heal in the aftermath of the controversial war. The Wall is being rededicated on Memorial Day as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of American involvement in the conflict in Vietnam.

The idea for the education center is to put faces and stories on the more than 58,000 names that are etched on the Wall. There will also be a collection of items that people have placed at the wall. There’s a famous book about the Vietnam War called “The Things They Carried.” If you’ve been to the Wall you know, there could also be a book written about the things people leave behind there.

“The point is that people have to understand that their freedom has been purchased at a price and that price is the lives of their fellow citizens who, for over 200 years, have done their duty for our country,” Scruggs told Here and Now‘s Robin Young in 2007. “This will be a place where these people will be remembered.”

This segment originally aired in 2007.

Guest:

  • Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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