The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search


Back to overview   |   1 2 3 4

Honoring the Dead

The Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 1982. Its polished black granite panels bear the names of men and women killed or missing in Vietnam from 1956 to 1975. The wall has become a place where Americans honor those who died, and reflect on their feelings about the war. Veterans seek out the names of their buddies; families and friends look for the names of loved ones. They mourn, remember, come to terms. Many leave flowers or letters or treasured keepsakes. Others, not searching for a name, find a sense of the enormity of the sacrifices made in Vietnam, and realize that the lives of those named on the wall are connected by history to their own.

As soon as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened to the public, visitors began leaving remembrances tucked between the granite panels or at the base of the wall—a scribbled note, for example, or a cherished snapshot. Soon, people were leaving elaborate displays, often covered in protective plastic. The story and meaning behind most of the offerings is known only to the donors.

Exhibition Graphics

At the wall

At the wall

Related Artifacts

Bottle of Jack Daniels, 6 Pack of Beer, Carton of Cigarettes
Wooden Cross with Barbed Wire
Note and Colt 45 Beer Can
Christmas Tree

Reconciliation and Remembrance

Nearly 4,000 Bell UH-1 helicopters, nicknamed Hueys, served during the war. One of those ships, with tail number 65-10091, was deployed to Vietnam in 1966 and served with the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, known as the Robinhoods. It returned to the United States and continued to fly until 1995, when it was decommissioned and acquired by the Texas Air Museum. In 2002, the 091 was the centerpiece in a documentary film and a tour of reconciliation and remembrance that brought Vietnam veterans and their stories to people across the nation.

Related Artifacts

Huey Helicopter 091, (Bell UH-1 Iroquois)

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Printable ScriptVisit the MuseumEducationCredits