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Visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Walk through American history at this epic three-part memorial
What is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and where is it?
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall pays tribute to the brave members of the U.S. Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War and were killed or 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 feature. The memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, with rangers on duty to answer questions from 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Interpretive programs are provided throughout the day and upon request.
You’ll find the memorial located near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall. You can conveniently travel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial via public transportation by Metro’s nearby Foggy Bottom or Federal Triangle stops on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines, the DC Circulator’s National Mall Route and Metrobus routes 32, 34 and 36.
One of the nation’s most poignant memorials
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall provides one of the National Mall’s most powerful scenes. In truth, the “wall” is actually made up of two identical walls that each stretch 246 feet and 9 inches, containing more than 58,000 names. The names are listed in chronological order based on the date of casualty, and within each day, names are shown in alphabetical order.
Perhaps the Memorial Wall’s most defining characteristic is a visitor’s ability to see his or her reflection at the same time as the engraved names, connecting the past and the present like few other monuments can. If you wish to spot the name of a relative or friend while there, search the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Virtual Wall before you embark or find the on-site list.
Just south of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which serves to commemorate the 265,000 women that served in the Vietnam War, many of whom worked as nurses. The 2,000 pound bronze structure stands 15 feet tall and depicts three women attending to a wounded soldier, reflecting the unity required during the struggle of the war.
The third part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is The Three Soldiers (also known as The Three Servicemen) bronze statue, another moving reminder of the disparate groups that had to come together during the Vietnam War. Each of the three soldiers stands seven feet tall, situated on top of a one-foot granite base. One is European American, one is African American and the other is Hispanic American, with the statue arranged as if to show the three soldiers gazing upon the Memorial Wall at the names of their fellow comrades.
Honor a veteran
On any given visit, you may encounter former servicemen at the memorial. In fact, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing vets, often elderly, to DC to visit the memorials which honor their service to the nation. These visits are often filled with emotions and help provide closure for veterans by reinforcing the importance of their service and sacrifice.
What to do next
Once you’re done exploring this memorial, take a short walk to see other points of interest nearby, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.