WASHINGTON - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has become a solemn place of healing for so many torn by a war that ended more than four decades ago. But along the way, the project would become an icon that received so much broad support from the American people.
FOX 5's Bob Barnard spoke with Robert Doubek, a Vietnam veteran who was in charge of building the memorial on the National Mall.
Doubek said work started on the memorial with a modest goal in mind: to make sure all who served and all who died would be remembered by our country.
No one working on the project knew that the memorial would become the American icon that it is today. Doubek says he believes there were 300,000 individual contributions with an average donation amount of $20. Approximately $9 million was raised by donations from the American public.
Doubek said the U.S. government provided an ideal location for the memorial - in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. "We were seeking also not only to honor the veterans and the dead, but to help foster the reconciliation of the country after the Vietnam War," he said.
More than 58,000 thousand names are engraved on the panels of the memorial with the average age of approximately 19-years-old.
In building the memorial, Doubek said the team wanted to be free of the politics of the war. "We are here to honor veterans. We're going to leave the issue of the rightness or wrongness of the war to history. We felt that the controversy over the war had been itself, the rancor over the war itself, had deprived the veterans of their due recognition. So we said the memorial could not make a political statement about the war."
Doubek has now written about his efforts to make the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a reality. He said the design memorial caused quite a controversy - and almost didn't get built at all. He still works for the U.S. government. More about his book can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Vietnam-Veterans-Memorial-Inside/dp/0786479094