Vietnam Memorial center searches for D.C. vets

WASHINGTON – As tourists visit the monuments of Washington on this Independence Day weekend, they’ll no doubt make a stop at the Vietnam Memorial.

But a project in the works to expand the memorial is stalling without the help it needs.

An underground education center has been in its planning stage since 2003. Organized by the Vietnam Memorial Fund, the center will tell the stories of the 58,000 veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam.

While the photos and stories of veterans from some states are flowing in or completely submitted, the stories of veterans from the District are not.

“We’ve run into sort of an interesting problem here in Washington, D.C., where we have 272 casualties (represented),” says Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Memorial Fund. “For some reason, we need another 198 to get all the photographs.”

Scruggs is unsure of why Washington has not come through with the photos of its Vietnam vets, though he says it could have to do with the transient nature of the city 40 years ago.

In other states, a group or organization has take on the task of tracking down each veteran, but no one has come forward to do so in D.C.

“Hopefully we’ll find somebody in D.C who will start working on this and make a good success out of it – maybe somebody who is interested in the history of Washington, D.C. – because these photographs are important,” Scruggs says.

The power of the education center comes from telling the soldiers’ personal stories, which are essential to the completion of the museum, Scruggs says.

“These photographs also tell the story, in part, of African-American experience in Vietnam and their courage,” he says. “This is a part of America’s story and it needs to be told.”

People can mail in photos and notes about their Vietnam War veteran, or submit photos online here. To help with the education center, click here.

See what memorial executives have in mind for the education center:

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