Facts about The Wall
Each wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is 246 feet, 8 inches long. They meet at an angle of 125 degrees, 12 minutes, and point exactly to the northeast corners of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The walls are supported along their entire length by 140 concrete pilings driven approximately 35 feet to bedrock.
At their vertex, the walls are 10 feet, 1.5 inches high.
The stone for the walls, safety curbs, and walkways is black granite quarried near Bangalore, India. All cutting and fabrication was done in Barre, Vermont.
Each name is preceded (on the west wall) or followed (on the east wall) by a symbol designating status. The diamond symbol denotes that the service member's death was confirmed. The “plus” symbol denotes missing in action. In the event an individual’s remains are returned, the diamond symbol is superimposed over the plus.
As of May 2016, there are 58,315 names on The Wall.
The original 57,939 names were grit-blasted in Memphis, Tenn., using industrial equipment and stencils produced through a photographic process.
Since 1982, 376 names have been added to The Wall (as of 12/31/2016) by craftsmen using the same photo-generated stencils. The letters are 0.53 inches high and are inscribed to a depth of approximately 0.015 inches.
The names were provided by the Department of Defense, which compiled a list of combat zone casualties according to Presidential Executive Order #11216, handed down by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 24, 1965. It specified Vietnam and adjacent coastal waters as a combat zone. This zone was expanded to include Laos, Cambodia, and Air Force bases in Thailand.
The names of eight women, all nurses, are inscribed on The Wall. Seven are from the U.S. Army; one is from the Air Force.
Medal of Honor recipients
The names of 160 Medal of Honor recipients are on The Wall.
However, one of those recipients earned his Medal of Honor during World War II, but died while serving in Vietnam. Michael Blassie was awarded the Medal of Honor when he was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. The Medal was rescinded when his remains were identified, and he is not counted with the 160.
There are 16 clergy members listed on The Wall: seven Catholic, seven Protestant, and two Jewish.
People from other countries
There are 120 individuals on The Wall who listed foreign countries as their home of record. The countries include: Australia, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Pacific Island, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Switzerland.
Each wall contains 74 separate panels, including four each end without names, for a total of 140 panels of names. The list starts and ends at the vertex of the walls. Beginning with the year 1959 inscribed at the top of the panel on Panel 1 East (1E), the listing goes out to the right, to the end of the east wall, Panel 70 East (70E). It resumes at the end of the west wall, Panel 70 West (70W), and continues to the right, to Panel 1 West (1W), with 1975 inscribed at the very bottom.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was paid for by donations from more than 275,000 individuals, veterans and civic organizations, corporations, foundations, and unions. No federal funds were used.