Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Education Center at The Wall

My name is Jan C. Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 30 years ago, I helped build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This monument healed millions with the engravings on a black granite wall.  Now, I am taking those names and putting a story and picture behind it in a new museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC; the Education Center at The Wall.

The Education Center of The Wall will change the people who visit it. For the nearly 40 percent of visitors who weren’t even born when The Wall was completed,, it will transform the long list of names cut in the smooth black granite. Instead of simply names,  visitors will see the faces and know the stories of the 58,000 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

Through interactive exhibits and primary source materials, visitors will be able to better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had on their family members, their home towns, their communities and the nation. Visitors will understand the importance of The Wall and the role it continues to play in healing the deep physical, emotional and societal wounds left by the war.

One of those interactive exhibits is called the Call for Photos. VVMF is trying to collect every single photograph of each person on The Wall. People are sending us photographs daily, along with personal remembrances. Here is one we received just the other day. It was written for Jeffry Cowley, from Daniel S. Lackey:


“I was ten years old that terrible spring day when I arrived home from school. I was accustomed to being greeted by a warm hug, but instead found my mother in tears, and on the telephone. I asked her what was wrong. She said simply through her tears and sobs that Jeff had been killed. I couldn’t believe it. She held me, and I cried. We all cried. Even my father whom I always thought was such a rock broke down when he saw all of us in tears. To be honest with you, I am crying now as I remember back to that day. Jeff was someone that the young boys of our church family looked up to. My oldest brother went to high school with him and his wife Sharon was like a sister to me as a child growing up.

A Few days before we found out Jeff didn’t make it, we had been told at church that Jeff had made it, and that they wouldn’t be sending him on anymore missions. I don’t remember all of the facts and details, just the look of relief on his parents’ and sister’s faces. I was so happy for Sharon and baby Jeffry, Jeff’s son. They were family to me. When I heard the news I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. But it was the awful truth. I remember him as a tall, upright towheaded young man, and a little jealous of my surrogate sister’s love for him. He was an affable sort of fellow, always kind to me, and had the reputation of one who never shirked his responsibilities. I don’t know what kind of soldier he was, or husband really, or what kind of father he would have made. But I am sure he was, or would have been great at all of them. All I knew at age 10 was that the world some how seemed smaller and a lesser place without him in it. I graduated from Freer High School in 1979 and was awarded a scholarship that bore his name and that of two other sons of our community who gave their last full measure for our country. I am proud of that. I think of it often.

It’s my goal to share Daniel’s submission in the Education Center, so generations to come can know the legacy of this great patriot. It’s also my goal to break ground on theEducationCenterthis Veterans Day.

In order to raise the rest of the needed funds so we can break ground, from now until Veterans Day, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) is issuing a Service Branch Challenge. The challenge is for each of us to support theEducationCenterand show pride in one of the branches of the service.

General Barry McCaffrey,USA(Ret) has agreed to lead the charge for the US Army, in their efforts. “TheEducationCenterat The Wall will be a place where our fallen comrades and their stories will live on forever,” said McCaffrey. “I’m proud to lend my support and encourage those who love the US Army to get involved. Supporters of the Army are already leading the way, and have donated more than $21,000. I challenge leaders of the other branches to step up to try and catch us.”

Join Gen. McCaffrey and me in some good natured competiveness and help us remember the legacy of service made by all 9,000,000 million men and women who served with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard during the Vietnam War Era.

Jan C. Scruggs

Founder and President of VVMF

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