Today in Smithsonian History: October 28, 1992
Duery Felton and Jennifer Locke examine a few of the 30,000 mementos left by visitors that have been collected at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some of these heart-wrenching objects were included in the exhibit “Personal Legacy: The Healing of A Nation.” (Photo by Dane Penland)
October 28, 1992. Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation, an exhibition commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., opens at the American History Museum.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 1982. Its polished black granite panels bear the names of men and women killed or missing in Vietnam from 1956 to 1975. As soon as the Memorial opened to the public, visitors began leaving remembrances tucked between the granite panels or at the base of the wall—a scribbled note, for example, or a cherished snapshot.
From 1992 until 2003, the National Museum of American History , in conjunction with the National Park Service, mounted Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation of more than 1,500 objects that had been left at the Memorial.
A wooden cross with base and barbed wire left at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. There are remnants of red wax where a candle was placed at the base. (National Park Service)
The note reads” Hey Bro!,Here’s the beer I owe you 24 yrs. late. You were right. I did make it back to the world. Great seeing you again. Sorry not to be with you but I’ll be along soon. Thanx. Sarge.”
Since the early years of the Memorial, the mother of Billy Stocks, who was killed in action in Vietnam, has left letters and Christmas objects at the Wall. Written on the stand of this artificial Christmas tree reads “STOCKS . BILL/ I LOVE YOU / CHRISTMAS 1987.
Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives and the National Museum of American History.
Posted: 28 October 2017