I recently came upon the link for the virtual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall which replicates the Wall on the National Mall in D.C. The memorial is familiar to many of us; it uses a spare design that abjures political commentary. It’s nice.
Of course, it is narrow in scope. In particular, it only lists the names of U.S. veterans who died in the war. Hearing of a virtual wall, I was disappointed that it did not attempt something different, and far more honest. The existing memorial wall has a total length of 493 feet 6 inches and contains 58,195 names.
What would such a wall look like if it listed the names of the estimated 3.1 million dead Vietnamese? Of course there is nothing remotely like a complete tally of the 3.1 million names that would compose the list so many Jane and John Does would be etched in the granite. Turning to a calculator for a moment, we can do the math.
The Vietnam Civilians and Veterans Memorial of Vietnamese would, if the height of the wall, layout, and spacing of names is held constant with the existing Wall, be not 493 feet in length but 26,288 feet long. That comes to just shy of five miles. At that length the new wall would extend from the site of the current memorial out of the National Mall, past Capitol Hill, and cross the Anacostia River.
It is little wonder that it has never been constructed to haunt the capital.