Volunteers wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Jamie Forzato, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It is often called “The Wall that Heals,” but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall got some healing itself as dozens of people scrubbed it clean Saturday morning.

NewDay USA employees and their families picked up brushes and hoses to wash the 58,000 names etched into the marble.

“It’s a way of showing respect for those who sacrificed and who made the ultimate sacrifice,” says retired Admiral Tom Lynch, a chairman of the mortgage company that provides loans to veterans. “I have nine of my classmates from the Naval Academy on that wall.”

Col. John Fenzel, CEO of NewDay USA Foundation, says washing the wall is a solemn experience.

“We do it to honor the service and sacrifice of the Vietnam veterans,” he says. “We do that by washing the granite of this wall.”

His family also pitched in, including his daughter Erin, 12, and son Luke, 6. Erin helped her little brother clean the memorial grounds.

“You know that a lot of people died, but you don’t really get a feel for how many, so you look at this wall,” she says. “It’s a lot.”

Abigail Khieu, 10, worked hard to get every inch of her panels clean.

“It’s important to wash these names so that when people come here, they can see the names and remember the people for who they were,” Khieu says.

The NewDay USA Foundation donated $1 million to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for an education center at the wall. If enough money is raised, construction is expected to begin next year.

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