From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Artifact assemblage consisting of a Riddell® brand football helmet, fabric wristband, and a handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Dear Vietnam Veterans", is signed, "Love, / Michael Miller [signature] / Haddonfield Memorial High School", and is dated, "1998". In content, the letter offers the donation of the football helmet and wristband to the veterans listed on The Wall, describing them as, "[...] my football helmet from when I played my last year of midget football before I entered high school" and, "[...] a wrist band that I wore for every game in this, my final year of high school football." The author goes on to describe how in these pieces of equipment he was permitted to, "[...] make mistakes, correct them, grow and mature as a person", an opportunity he acknowledges that was denied to those veterans whose lives were cut short by their service in Vietnam. Mr. Miller then notes that, "Some of you were forced to grow up too fast and all of you died too soon", expresses the belief that, "[...] we both have pride, heart and determination", and refers to the Wall honorees as, "[...] all true heros [sic] and will never be forgotten." The helmet and letter were referenced in a speech delivered by the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, during a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by Haddonfield Memorial High School student Michael Miller between January - May 1998.
ASSEMBLAGE CONSISTING OF: COMPONENT (A) RIDDELL BRAND FOOTBALL HELMET AND COMPONENT (B) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. COMPONENT (A) RIDDELL BRAND FOOTBALL HELMET. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A SPHERICALLY SHAPED, BLACK POLY-PLASTIC OUTER SHELL, WHITE, CLOSED-CELL FOAM INTERIOR PADS WITH METAL SNAP CLOSURES, WHITE/FABRIC LINED/POLY-PLASTIC CHINSTRAP WITH DUAL METAL SNAP CLOSURES AND BEARING THE MANUFACTURER/SUPPLIER'S STAMP, "RIDDELL" IN RED, BLOCK SCRIPT, THREE (3) BAR METAL FACEMASK WRAPPED IN BLACK, RUBBERIZED POLY-PLASTIC, WHITE POLY-PLASTIC FACEPLATES AT THE CENTER OF THE OBVERSE AND REVERSE OBJECT SURFACES BEARING THE MANUFACTURER/SUPPLIER'S STAMP, "RIDDELL" IN RED, BLOCK SCRIPT, AND TWO (2) PARALLEL, WHITE ADHESIVE STRIPES RUNNING ALONG THE CROWN OF THE HELMET FROM THE CENTER OF THE OBVERSE TO THE CENTER OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. A WHITE COTTON/POLYESTER BLEND [?] FABRIC WRISTBAND IS WRAPPED ABOUT THE CHINSTRAP OF THE HELMET AND BEARS HANDWRITTEN INSCRIPTIONS IN BLACK MARKER AND BLOCK SCRIPT (ONLY A PORTION OF WHICH ARE LEGIBLE) AND WHICH READS, "MOM / DAD". COMPONENT (B) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A HANDWRITTEN LETTER IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "DEAR VIETNAM VETERANS", IS SIGNED, "LOVE, / MICHAEL MILLER [signature] / HADDONFIELD MEMORIAL HIGH SCHOOL", AND IS DATED, "1998". IN CONTENT, THE LETTER OFFERS THE DONATION OF THE FOOTBALL HELMET AND WRISTBAND (COMPONENT (A)) TO THE VETERANS LISTED ON THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM), DESCRIBING THEM AS, "[...] MY FOOTBALL HELMET FROM WHEN I PLAYED MY LAST YEAR OF MIDGET FOOTBALL BEFORE I ENTERED HIGH SCHOOL" AND, "[...] A WRISTBAND THAT I WORE FOR EVER GAME IN THIS, MY FINAL YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL." THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO INFORM THE WALL HONOREES THAT IN THIS EQUIPMENT HE WAS PERMITTED TO, "[...] MAKE MISTAKES, CORRECT THEM, GROW AND MATURE AS A PERSON", AN OPPORTUNITY HE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT WAS DENIED TO THOSE VETERANS WHOSE LIVES WERE CUT SHORT BY THEIR SERVICE IN VIETNAM. MR. MILLER THEN NOTES THAT, "SOME OF YOU WERE FORCED TO GROW UP TOO FAST AND ALL OF YOU DIED TOO SOON", EXPRESSES THE BELIEF THAT, "[...] WE BOTH HAVE PRIDE, HEART AND DETERMINATION", AND REFERS TO THE WALL HONOREES AS, "[...] ALL TRUE HEROS [sic] AND WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN." THE ASSEMBLAGE WAS REFERENCED IN A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BARACK OBAMA, DURING A VISIT TO THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM) ON MEMORIAL DAY, MAY 28, 2012.
Text of the stamped manufacturer/supplier's inscriptions upon COMPONENT (A) and of the handwritten inscriptions upon COMPONENT (B) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), manufacturer/supplier's stamped inscriptions] "Riddell® / Riddell / Riddell / Riddell®" / [COMPONENT (B), obverse object surface, handwritten inscription] "Dear Vietnam Veterans, / Here are two things from me to all of you that I think you should have. / The first is my football helmet from when I played my last year of midget football before I entered high school. / It was in this helmet where I learned a lot about life and myself. / The second thing I am leaving you is a wrist band that I wore for every game in this, my final year of high school football. / It is very special to me because on it are the names or initials of people who are very important to me. / I wanted them to be with me through the good times and the bad and so they could help me give my all on every play. / In these two pieces of equipment, I was allowed to make mistakes, correct them, grow and mature as a person. / However, that was on my battlefield. / You didn't get the chance to do that on your battlefield. / Some of you were forced to grow up too fast and all of you died too soon. / We do have many things in common though, we both have pride, heart and determination. / I am just sorry you guys had to learn those qualities too fast. / That is why I am giving you what I grew up in. / You are all true heros [sic] and will never be forgotten. / Love, / Michael Miller [signature] / Haddonfield Memorial High School / 1998"
Item Weight: 1850.0g (Collective weight of COMPONENT (A) & wristband)
Item Length: 30.5cm
Item Width: 24.2cm
Item Height: 21.6cm