Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Tom Fudge: It was just over 25 years ago that the Vietnam War Memorial opened on Washington D.C.'s capital mall. The run-up to creating the monument was rough, with politicians and conservative veterans calling the monument disrespectful. The monument was designed by the young artist Maya Lin. Her sculpture included two black walls, connecting at an apex. The walls were covered with the names of nearly 60,000 Americans either killed or missing in Vietnam.
Today, that controversy is long forgotten, and the memorial is the most visited monument on the mall. An estimated 4.5 million people see it each year. The person who is largely responsible for creating the monument is Jan Scruggs. A wounded, decorated Vietnam veteran, Scruggs launched the effort to create the wall in 1979. He did it by putting up $2,800 of his own money. He went on to get government approval and raise the remaining money needed.