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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid