Photos are being sought for local Vietnam veterans, to be included in The Wall of Faces being created by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. They can be emailed to Mdecann@nynewspapers.com, uploaded at www.vvmf.org/wall-of-faces, or mailed to VVMF at 2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 104, Washington, D.C. 20037.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is working to add a more human element to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
A massive, black, granite wall, the memorial lists the names of the more than 58,000 soldiers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. It’s a striking tribute, but to those who were born well after the war, it may simply look like a bunch of names. One way to change that is to associate a photo with each of those names, said Tim Tetz, manager of public outreach for VVMF.
“If you’re able to suddenly show them their face staring back at them, then all of a sudden, they get this realization of, ‘This is the service and sacrifice that this generation made,’” he explained.
Photos of those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War will appear on an electronic “Wall of Faces” in a new education center to be built near the memorial wall on the National Mall. The two-story-high digital display will include larger-than-life photographs of the fallen soldiers. The center will also feature exhibits containing some of the remembrances left at the memorial wall. Construction will likely start in 2015, with an opening date in 2017.
To date, VVMF has collected approximately 38,000 photos. About 20,000 are yet to be located. In New York state, over 2,000 photos still need to be found. Fifty of the service members whose photos are being sought had hometowns in Saratoga, Schenectady, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties.
The Wall of Faces can be viewed online at www.vvmf.org/wall-of-faces. Although far from complete, it is already a haunting tribute to the thousands of soldiers who died during the war.
Friends and family members have posted remembrances along with photos.
Below a photo of Schenectady native George B. Gunn, one friend posted:
“I remember building forts when we were kids; high school dances and how much of good friends we were to each other. I remember the day you left. You will be missed always. John.”
Frank J. Hutchins of Mechanicville has the following remembrance posted with his photo:
“I am your name sake. What incredible shoes to fill. I hope I do right by you. Not a day goes by your not thought about.”
Even if a photo of a soldier has already been posted on The Wall of Faces, more are welcome, Tetz noted.
“What we want is the picture that, when you see it, you’re like, ‘That’s him. That’s the one.’ Whether it’s him in front of his hot rod, whether it’s him in his high school graduation photo — whatever it is — that picture, when you see it, you say, ‘Hey, that’s him.’ That’s the picture we want to make sure we have.”