The Vietnam War Memorial is a national landmark in Washington, DC that attracts millions of Americans every year. The reflective black granite wall engraved with more than 58,000 names is such a big part of our communal processing of that war. It's hard to imagine now, but during its inception the wall was a source of explosive controversy among Vietnam veterans.
This episode is the story of that wall. It's the story of Jan Scruggs, the wounded Vietnam veteran who fought for a national memorial to honor those Americans killed in that war. It's the story of Maya Lin, the Yale architecture student who designed the wall as a symbol that would not let the country off the hook for what it did to our Vietnam veterans. It's the story of the men who returned from Vietnam and organized a national movement to fund the memorial on the National Mall.
The story of the Vietnam War Memorial is a part of the story of the American experience in Vietnam. Like everything associated with that war, it was divisive within the United States, the subject of protests and outrage. It's now a source of comfort, of closure, of healing for so many Vietnam veterans and so many Families bereaved by that war. As Vietnam veteran, poet, and veterans' advocate John Musgrave said: "When I saw that wall, I knew it would save lives."
The wall, which displays no rank, no date of birth, no unit affiliation, and no hometown, bonds each of our Fallen in perpetuity.
This may be among the most important, insightful episodes we've ever produced, so we hope you'll listen and pass it on.