Monday, April 28, 2008

Vietnam Virtual Wall

The Virtual Vietnam Wall
Visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D. C. with its 58,256 names carved into black granite is a powerful and emotional experience. The sheer size of the Wall is a sobering reminder of how many young people paid the ultimate sacrifice during this war.

Every time I have been to the Wall, I realize it is not just the Wall by itself but seeing the people who interact with the Wall that makes the visit so poignant. Seeing people placing flowers against the Wall under their loved one's name, or seeing people rubbing a carved name from the Wall onto paper to take home, or seeing people standing in silence as they touch a name on the Wall reminds me of the suffering of the loved ones left behind.

I didn't think it would be possible for the Virtual Wall to have the same emotional impact as as visit to the Granite Wall in D.C. But I was wrong.

The Virtual Vietnam Wall at turns the 58,256 names engraved onto the Wall into real people with real stories and loved ones they left behind. Just like at the Granite Wall, it is the interaction with people that makes the Virtual Wall poignant. Short stories of their lives written by those who loved them, photographs of forever-young faces, and loving tributes make the visit to the Virtual Wall very poignant. Many of the tributes hold a lot of emotion in a very few words: "The dad I never knew", or "He saved my life", or "I still miss you, brother".

Peter Krogh, a National Geographic photographer, took more than 1,500 photographs of the Wall and stitched them together to create one digital replica of the memorial. Footnote made each name link to the person's personnel records and casualty reports supplied by the National Archives. To view the whole Wall, slide from one side to the other to see the sheer magnitude of the 140 panels that make the Vietnam Wall.

Searching is easy. Choose any of of 24 categories - you don't need to supply a name. Search for a soldier, or for all soldiers who died in one town, or for those who died in a certain year, or any combination of the 24 filters.

Some of the Tributes
Lewis Albanese
Thomas Joseph Blanchard
Gerald Alan Cahela
Thomas Carlisle
Harry Cramer
Steven Dean Gundolf
Norman Walter Heck Jr
George Henry Jourdenais
Roger Edward Jozwiak
Darwin Lee Judge
Fredrick Ellis Larsen
Chester Lee
William Thomas Perkins Jr
Leroy James Westra
David Clark Williams
Delvin Wilson

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