Volunteers have now tracked down at least one photo for every one of the more than 58,000 U.S. military service members who died in the Vietnam War – for an online Wall of Faces project that took more than two decades to complete.
The goal was to help a new generation of Americans grapple with sacrifice and inspire them to reflect, perhaps, on “why we have a wall” with names inscribed on it, say organizers from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the nonprofit that spearheaded the digital project as well as the national monument on which all these names are engraved.
More than half of the visitors to the memorial in Washington, D.C., today weren’t alive when it was commissioned in 1982, they add.
Over the years the picture-gathering process could be fraught: Relatives were sometimes reluctant to share photos of loved ones killed in battles picked by a government their survivors had come to distrust.
And stock photos taken straight out of, say, boot camp graduation can be surprisingly tough to come by. “The military doesn’t just sit there and funnel pictures to you,” says Herb Reckinger, a volunteer.
So tracking them down often involved investigative dedication, reaching out to local librarians, scouring yearbooks, and, at one point, combing through microfiche for a grainy image of a high schooler orphaned and homeless before he was drafted.
You can read a lot more in an article by Anna Mulrine Grobe published in The Christian Science Monitor web site at: https://tinyurl.com/8wspeb6x