News / USA

Cleaning Vietnam Memorial Proves Healing for Veterans

Washing Wall Memorial Is Cleansing Experience for Veteransi
X
May 17, 2013 4:39 PM
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial stark black Wall is inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 U.S. service members who died or went missing during the Vietnam War. Every Sunday, from April through October, a special group of volunteers gathers in the early hours of the morning to show their respect for those who died during the two-decade-long conflict, which ended in 1975. VOA’s Julie Taboh was there one Sunday morning and has this report.
Under a newly-risen sun in Washington, D.C., a group of men and women are elbow deep in soapsuds.

They are members of Rolling Thunder, a group dedicated to raising awareness about American prisoners of war and those still missing in action.

Armed with buckets and brushes, they wash the granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bears the names of 58,286 U.S. service members who were killed or declared missing in action during the two-decade-long conflict, which ended in 1975.

Fallen comrades

For these men and women, most of them veterans, washing the wall is personal.

“Rolling Thunder has been allowed the privilege to honor our veterans past and current," said Forrest Lingenfelter, who belongs to the Virginia Chapter of the organization. "That these guys – and ladies – aren’t forgotten. They’re never forgotten. At least they never should be forgotten."
 
Al Mori spent three years in Vietnam and knows a lot of folks on the wall.

"We’re doing this for the visitor’s comfort to see the wall," he said, "but at the same time we’re kind of healing ourselves over what happened.”

“We come down the second Sunday of every month, April through October, to wash the wall where all our brothers are," said John Einbinder, who is also a member of the Virginia chapter. "I’ve got one friend on the wall over there. It’s just a privilege to come down here and keep it clean.”

Once a month, from April through October, Rolling Thunder volunteers gather to wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. (VOA/J. Taboh)Once a month, from April through October, Rolling Thunder volunteers gather to wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. (VOA/J. Taboh)


Many Rolling Thunder members are bikers. They ride to Washington from all over the United States for Memorial Day and other occasions. It's hard to miss the collective roar of their motorcycles as they perform demonstration runs near Washington's iconic monuments.
 
Lasting legacy


More than 30 years after its dedication, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial continues to draw millions of visitors every year, according to the National Park Service. Many come to find the names of loved ones, make rubbings of those names, and leave behind tributes to those they lost.
 
Jan Scruggs, a decorated Vietnam veteran, is founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), a nonprofit organization that helped build the memorial on the National Mall in the nation's capital.

“This memorial has helped to heal many individual wounds from the war, psychological wounds," he said. "By seeing the name and touching the name of one of your friends, many people do feel a sense of relief after many years. So washing the wall is kind of part of that, too.”

For many members of Rolling Thunder, the wall brings relief. But more importantly, says Forrest Lingenfelter, it's about remembrance.

“Each one of these guys had a family. And these gentlemen – and ladies – didn’t make it back for that family," he said. "They’re not forgotten. And this is one of the ways we ensure they’re not forgotten.”

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: chip825
June 10, 2013 6:17 PM
I have been to the rolling wall twice after 40 years.. Extremely difficult... Lost many friends after serving in RVN for almost 2 years.
Still being treated. Always brings back tears to my eyes... thanks to all the guys.


by: Truc from: Vietnam
May 19, 2013 10:05 PM
We can not change the history but we can change the future. The future is not war and death. All of them was dead for their country deserve to commemorate. And I am very thankful to who died for our peace country.


by: james nice from: leesburg fl.
May 18, 2013 4:54 PM
glad someone is taking care of it i am a army vet spent 1968 in vietnam 100 percent disabled due to agent orange god bless you for all you do for vets


by: Mary from: Florida
May 17, 2013 9:27 PM
Thank you for your service and dedication Rolling Thunder members!!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid