Thousands volunteer to read all 58,318 names at Vietnam Veterans Memorial


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From Nov.7 to Nov. 10, over the span of 65 total hours, 58,318 names were read aloud and given life once again. More than 2,000 volunteers traveled from as far away as Alaska to participate in the “Reading of the Names” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Man stands center stage to read 30 names from the wall

A volunteer stands center stage to read 30 names from the wall

A stage with two spotlights was placed right in front of the wall. A podium stood at center stage. Every two minutes, a volunteer walked up to the podium and read a list of names.

Despite downpours on Tuesday and cold weather each night, people continued to read the names. Many volunteers showed up without having a reserved place in the order and helped fill in the gaps to ensure the reading never paused.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the event on Thursday night. The air was misty and chilly, and there were only 30 or so people around at any given time. A few people sat in chairs in front of the stage to listen. Several people pass by to look at the memorial. There’s a handful standing in line waiting for their turn to read. Everyone is there to pay their respects to the fallen.

As I stood in line waiting for my turn, I listened to the others. The more I listened, the harder it was to keep my eyes dry. One woman preceded a name with “my father” and choked up as she read his name. A gentleman that followed her struggled to get through some of the names of his comrades. Every name means something to somebody somewhere. Each name represents service and sacrifice.

The first “Reading of the Names” occurred at the National Cathedral when the memorial was dedicated in November 1982. This year marked the 35th anniversary of the memorial and a reading of the names has been held every five years.

Thank you to everyone that participated in this important event. Stay up to date with news and events happening at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by following the Vietnam Veterans Memorial fund at http://www.vvmf.org.

Author

Timothy Lawson

Timothy Lawson has been a member of VA’s Digital Media Engagement team since April 2016. He graduated from American University’s School of Communications in 2016 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Tim is a Marine Corps Veteran having served as a Marine Security Guard posted at embassies in Algeria, Russia, and Peru.

Comments

  1. Steven R King    

    As a Vietnam Era Veteran I was prvledged to be able to participate in the Reading of the Names this year. Though I did not know any of the names I read it was special to me as I was a member of the Pope AFB (NC) Honor Guard near the end of Vietnam and participated in too many funerals for those paying the ultimate price.

  2. samuel colman    

    thank you for this article.
    Yes they will not be forgotten.
    So many of them never had time to start a family
    live to see they kids go to school, or be a grandparent,
    that to me is the really sad part, never to get to have this
    feeling i have had, i made it home, a lucky one.
    sam colman
    Vietnam vet.
    Manchu’s B 4/9 inf
    may 68-9
    VVA 885

  3. Mike McMunn    

    Had the distinct honor to read my list of names on Friday, November 10. I hope I can do it again in 2022.

    Thanks to all who participated and thanks to the VVMF for making it possible.

    Mike McMunn
    Vietnam 1970
    MACV Adv Tm 70

  4. Daniel Alonzo Shearer    

    Would be hard to read the names, I thank all that did, and I will never forget them.

    Dan Shearer CWO4 USCG Ret
    Vietnam 69-70

  5. Everett Dale Ahlbom    

    I served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. I put in to go to Vietnam, but was sent to Korea instead. I lost a lot of comrades and a cousin. I fly my American and POW/MIA flag every day. I will never forget my fallen military brothers and sisters. Thank you for this beautiful site. I’m going to try and make the next reading of the names.

  6. gregory e bischoff    

    Read the names when the moving wall came to Albany, NY. A real honor.
    Greg Bischoff USS Oxford 1968

  7. Arvel Beecher    

    I lost two good friends in Vietnam Larry Budde, while I was there in 1968 and 1969 and Hershel Green before I went there! I appreciate all who served! Those that weren’t there and being spit on and called baby killers when they came back people just don’t understand how that feels even 50 years later! It took me 45 years to get anything for my health problems!

  8. rafael alaniz    

    I’m SGT Rafael Alaniz and I would like to thank everyone who was there reading the names of the wall where I have friends .It’s been a long time since I pay my respects to my brothers who live in my heart forever and I will never forget them and all my brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home to grow and enjoy a fruitful life. I did three tours and I’m a disable veteran, and there is not one day that I don’t think of my brothers who didn’t make home, it hurt me so much.

  9. Neal David Jacobsen    

    Hi, my name is Neal David Jacobsen I was in the Navy Reserves from 1987 to 1998. I need VA benefits my brother John Irwin Jacobsen has them and he was in for the same amount of time. Some named Mike Hansen that poses as a cousin of mine to inherit from my Grandfather Patrick Oluf Hanson poisoned me In the middle of the night while I slept in recliner chair at 4055 North Haven in Willard Missouri late October 2012. I am suffering can someone get ahold of the President for me.

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