A decades-long project to pair faces with the names etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is now complete.
With assistance from hundreds of volunteers across the nation, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) has created the Wall of Faces, a website featuring at least one photo of each of the 58,281 servicemembers who died in the Vietnam War.
“The Wall of Faces tells … stories through photos and remembrances left by both friends and family members,” Jim Knotts, president and CEO of VVMF, said in a press release announcing the milestone. “We couldn’t have done this without the tenacious work of a small army of volunteers across the country. Their ingenuity, commitment and dedication are tremendous.”
Vietnam Veterans Memorial founder and former VVMF president Jan Scruggs wasn’t initially confident VVMF could assemble and curate all the photos. A joint project with FedEx and Kinko’s in 2001 resulted in thousands of new images, but there was no expectation of getting everyone’s image, said VVMF Director of Outreach Tim Tetz.
Years later, VVMF began planning for an Education Center at The Wall. One of the cornerstone displays, Tetz said, would be images of fallen servicemembers featured on their birthday.
“For this reason, we needed to make a greater effort to find the photos, so in the late 2000s, our effort was revitalized to expand our collection,” Tetz said. “… Even though the Education Center project was cancelled, we realized there was a use for these photos at our traveling memorial, The Wall That Heals, and in other museums, events, and forums throughout the nation.”
Janna Hoehn, a Hawaii resident and volunteer, was also instrumental in the Wall of Faces’ efforts. Hoehn began researching names of veterans from Hawaii more than a decade ago and helped gather photos from every resident of her home state of California. Eventually, she assembled a network of volunteers across the nation to help bring this project to fruition.
“The person who got the ball over the goal line was Janna Hoehn and her dozens of volunteers across America,” Scruggs said. “… She is both charming and serious. Each volunteer was willing to work year after year. There was nothing easy about this outcome. It involved detective work and commitment.”
The VVMF is asking the public to continue providing high-quality images, and stories, about those who perished during the war. Submission details are available at this link as well as on servicemembers’ profile pages at the Wall of Faces, where you can find information on submitting individual remembrances. You can also contact VVMF at (202) 393-0900 or email@example.com.