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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid