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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid