Pictured: Photo of items left at The Wall, Memorial Day 2008 (Dave Scavone)
Washington – The National Park Service is accepting comments through March 10 on a draft Scope of Collection Statement for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The new collection guidelines would retain only those items left at the memorial directly related to the names on the memorial, to Vietnam veterans in general or to the overall Vietnam experience. Objects left at the wall with no direct connection to a Vietnam veteran or the Vietnam War would no longer be added to the permanent collection.
“By refining the scope of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection, we can ensure that our energy and resources will preserve items with a direct and specific relationship to veterans of the Vietnam War,” said Gay Vietzke, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This allows National Park Service curators to continue their devoted care for the collection, and assists us in our mission to provide a better understanding of the Vietnam War and to honor and remember the men and women who served.”
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection includes more than 400,000 objects left at the memorial since its dedication in 1982. Developed with assistance from museum professionals and Vietnam veterans, the proposed changes specify that the National Park Service would only keep personal artifacts of those soldiers whose names appear on the memorial; Vietnam War military service items; and protest, activism, and advocacy materials related to the war.
In addition to items left at the wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection will also include elements related to the architecture of the memorial, such as the mold and casts for the Three Servicemen statue and test panels of the memorial used for corrosion studies; and archival materials related to the planning, design, construction and preservation of the memorial.
Tribute items with no direct connection to the Vietnam War or a Vietnam veteran, which today make up the majority of items left at the memorial, will no longer be retained. Additional items that would not be part of the permanent collection include mass-produced, impersonal items, such as patches and reproduction dog tags; perishable items or any others likely to deteriorate over time; objects that pose a safety hazard; and items relating to social or political movements or wars other than the Vietnam War. In cases where a large sample of a particular type of item already exists in the collection, only a representative sample will be retained.
A full copy of the draft Vietnam Veterans Memorial Scope of Collection Statement is available here.
How to Comment
The preferred manner for providing comments on the draft Scope of Collection Statement is via an online form through the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website, used by the agency to manage official correspondence and analyze public comment in the planning process. From the project website, navigate the menu on the left hand side of the page to "Document List," then open the "Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection Scope of Collection Statement," then "Comment Now."
Comments may also be submitted in writing to:
Gay Vietzke, Superintendent
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Attn: Vietnam Veterans Memorial SOCS
900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024
Comments must be entered into the website or postmarked by March 10, 2016 to receive consideration. Please be aware that the entire comment submitted – including personal identifying information such as address, phone number, and email address – may be made publicly available. Requests to withhold such personal identifying information from public release will be considered, but there is no guarantee that they will be withheld.
About National Mall and Memorial Parks
The National Park Service’s National Mall and Memorial Parks preserves, protects, and interprets the symbolic and monumental civic spaces and commemorative works in the center of the Nation’s Capital that honor American ideals and values, distinguished public figures, and military and civilian sacrifices and contributions. On the National Mall these sites include the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. National Mall and Memorial Parks also serves as a public park and open space for active civic and cultural engagement, recreation, and public enjoyment.