The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection (VVMC) is one of the most important contemporary collections being developed in the United States today. The objects left at the Memorial represent tangible evidence of the effect of a specific historic epoch on American and international society. They also provide testimonies that will help explain the social history of the Vietnam War generation. It is essential that the objects be properly documented and preserved.

Owing to the volatile social and political postures of the Vietnam-era and the ultimate goal of the Memorial's founders to nourish national reconciliation, the term "war memorial" was dismissed. Known as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Memorial makes no statement on the politics or the conduct of the war.

The Vietnam War is the longest, and arguably the most controversial, in U.S. history. Congress never officially declared war against North Vietnam, but on August 7, 1964, the 88th Congress passed the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), which authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."

The first American ground combat troops landed in South Vietnam during March 1965, specifically the U.S. Third Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, deployed to Vietnam from Okinawa to defend the Da Nang, Vietnam, airfield. During the height of U.S. military involvement, December 31, 1968, the breakdown of allied forces were as follows: 536,100 U.S. military personnel, with 30,610 U.S. military having been killed to date; 65,000 Free World Forces personnel; 820,000 South Vietnam Armed Forces (SVNAF) with 88,343 having been killed to date. At the war's end, there were approximately 2,200 U.S. missing in action (MIA) and prisoner of war (POW).
Source: Harry G. Summers, Jr. Vietnam War Almanac, Facts on File Publishing, 1985.

In 1979 a group of Vietnam veterans operating from Washington, D.C. founded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF). Their objective was to have a tangible tribute to those Americans who served in the Vietnam War. They stipulated that the Memorial be contemplative in character, harmonize with its surroundings, be an inviting site, contain the names of all those who died or remain missing, and make no political statement. By separating those who were lost in the war from divisive political issues, the VVMF hoped to foster national reconciliation and begin the healing process.

The following dates are benchmarks for the development of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.:

For additional information concerning Vietnam Veterans Memorial subjects (such as criteria for the adding of Memorial names, etc.), may we suggest that you contact the following:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
815 Fifteenth St., N.W., Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 393-0090 Fax (202) 393-0029

For additional information concerning the Vietnam Women's Memorial (such as Memorial-associated programs, etc.), may I suggest that you contact the following:

Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc.
2001 S Street, N.W., Suite 302
Washington, DC. 20009
(202) 328-7253 Fax (202) 986-3636

If you have further questions about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, you can contact the Curator at mrce@nps.gov

Suggestion Box VVM Movie VVM Overview

MRCE Main Page Navigation Index Reader's Series Index

Last Updated: June 5, 1997