The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall and northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. It honors members of the U.S. Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War, those who perished in Vietnam and South East Asia, and those missing in action. The memorial consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the most popular part of the memorial. The “wall” is actually made up of two identical walls that are each 246 feet and 9 inches long, and contain more than 58,000 names. According to the National Park Service, the memorial receives roughly 3 million visitors per year. If you’re looking for the name of a relative or friend, search the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Virtual Wall.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was established in 1979 to raise money for the construction of a memorial to the veterans of the Vietnam War. In 1980, Congress allotted three acres near the Lincoln Memorial for the site of this memorial, and a design competition was held. Maya Ying Lin’s design was selected in 1981, and amidst controversy over her design, the Three Soldiers Statue was added to the memorial. Construction on the main wall began in March 1982, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was dedicated on November 13, 1982. The Three Soldiers statue, sculpted by Frederick Hart, was completed and dedicated by 1984. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was designed by Glenna Goodacre and was dedicated in 1993.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day. The memorial is lit at night, and rangers and volunteers are present throughout the day and into the night to assist visitors. A visitor contact station is between this memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Photography with tripod usage is prohibited at the memorial, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial may not be filmed or photographed for commercial purposes.
The most convenient way to reach the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is by bus or Metro. Several Metrobus routes are available: the 32, 34 and 36. The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and Federal Triangle, on the Orange and Blue lines. There is general visitor parking available along Ohio Drive, as well as limited handicapped parking. However, note that street parking is scarce nearby.
At their locations near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall, all three parts of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are within walking distance of DC’s other landmark monuments and memorials. The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the White House and the Jefferson Memorial are all close by. It also is in proximity to the Holocaust Museum, East Potomac Park and the Southwest Waterfront.
- More than 275,000 Americans contributed almost $9 million to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for the construction of the memorial.
- Nine groups of names have been added to the Memorial Wall since it was dedicated, with the most recent coming in 2011.
- The names are listed on the Wall in chronological order, based on the date of casualty. Within each day, the names are listed in alphabetic order.
- The names were inscribed on the Wall via a computerized typesetting process called photo stencil gritblasting.
- The soldiers depicted in the Three Soldiers statue are seven feet tall, placed on a one foot granite base.