THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL — A MODEL PARTNERSHIP ON AMERICA’S MALL By Jan C. Scruggs, Esq.

I am essentially an association executive, the CEO of an organization, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), which has a number of missions.  Our primary mission is completing the Education Center at The Wall (www.buildthecenter.org). When completed, the Education Center will honor all veterans, including those of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose sacrifices will be honored every day by displaying the pictures and names of those who have been killed in the most recent wars.  This will be the only memorial on the Mall to these deserving heroes for the foreseeable future.

A lot of fundraising is involved with this endeavor, but that is not all that our devoted staff spends its time working on.

This morning I got some interesting news.  The August 23, 2011 earthquake that shook  Virginia did some damage to two extra granite panels that we have stored at Quantico Marine Base.  The panels have been there for nearly 30 years, stored on a secure part of the base.  In case some damage ever occurs to The Wall, we can swing into action, re-engrave the names and replace the panels.  Two of the ten reserve panels fell down – cracking into thousands of pieces.  Today we received the check from our insurance company, allowing us to replace the broken panels.   You will find the photo interesting.

Fascinatingly, I learned about receiving the insurance check just as I was paying some of our vendors.  I signed a check for a $1,000 to a landscaping contractor to pay for planting some bushes at the Three Servicemen Statue.  I asked our accountant, Gabrielle Grice, how much money we have spent this year to keep the lawn at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial looking nice.  She added up the total for me, and in 2010 we spent $58,010.38 on replacing sod, repairing the irrigation system (which we installed) and on other needs related to lawn maintenance.

We have done a lot more than just this. Over the years, VVMF has spent millions of dollars on repairs and maintenance of The Wall, The In Memory Plaque and the Three Servicemen Statue.

The Education Center at The Wall will actually save Congress money.  The funds generated by the Center will continue to take care of The Wall, the Education Center and, we believe, some needed care of the Korean War Memorial.  We built The Wall in 1982 through private donations and we have kept it and the other elements in good condition since 1982. It is not easy to raise money for this, but we work to find ways.  Recently, we received $50,000 from the International Association of Machinists to help with the lawn. Last year, an event at the home of the widow of Frederick Hart helped raise the money needed to restore the Three Servicemen Statue.  The Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars assisted as well.  A lot of people donated a few dollars each.

VVMF takes an active role concerning the physical needs of The Wall, The Three Serviceman statue and flagpole, and the rest of the three-acre site on which the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rests. You may find some of the work we do of interest, including our million dollar lighting system.

We do more than most to add to the upkeep of The Mall.  When the Education Center is built, we will be able to do even more.

All of our National Parks need partners like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  There are billions of dollars which are not available from the stretched-very-thin federal budget.   We all can help in different ways as volunteers or by donating. VVMF is proud to do our part to help preserve America’s National Mall.

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