THE EDUCATION CENTER AT THE WALL
Honor the fallen, honor the veteran. It seems so simple; separate the war from the warrior. It is almost easy to forget that there was a time in the history of the United States of America, not so long ago, when this was not so. There was a time when returning veterans were spit upon, yelled at, and shamed. But instead of turning inward, against the country and people who abandoned them, Vietnam veterans said, “Never again.”
Their resolve was inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as it changed the course of American history by providing a place where citizens learned to respect the warrior despite their feelings about the war. Today, The Wall continues to heal wounds wrought by war and to symbolize America’s deep gratitude for all who serve.
It is time now to honor a new generation of American heroes.
On November 17, 2003, President George W. Bush signed Public Law 108-126 authorizing VVMF to build the Education Center at The Wall. The site selected for the Education Center is in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial and adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial draws 6.2 million annual visitors and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial draws 4.5 million visitors, making this area the most visited on the National Mall.
In September of 2004, VVMF chose the award-winning firms of Ennead Architects and Ralph Appelbaum Associates to design the facility and exhibits for the Education Center. The firms had previously collaborated in designing the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
The Education Center at The Wall will be a place where service to our nation is elevated and celebrated. Direct community involvement will be solicited from visitors. Larger-than-life digital displays of the photographs of the fallen, powerful exhibits containing some of the more than 400,000 remembrances left at The Wall, as well as stunning visuals and moving narratives recounting the nature of combat in Vietnam will leave lasting impressions and ensure the completion of VVMF’s mission.