The site has added an interactive exhibit with a database of names linked to photos of each engraved name. The images are from a 460-foot photograph of the wall, consisting of 6,301 separate images “stitched” together.
The Wall bears 58,320 names of armed forces members who died or went missing while serving in the Vietnam War. (Names may be added on Memorial Day each year as the Department of Veterans Affairs receives additional information.)
You can search for a name or browse by a category, such as branch of service and hometown. You’ll see a photo of each matching name. Click a match for details, including the person’s hometown, rank, specialty (such as maintenance or field artillery), decorations, religion, marital status, birth date and death date and cause.
You also can click View on the exhibit’s main page to see the entire stitched-together photo—then zoom in and move around. (As you might expect, the image takes a l-o-o-o-o-ng time to load.) Hover over a name, and a window pops up you can click for details on that person.
The black granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial was constructed in 1982 after its creator, 21-year-old architecture student Maya Ying Lin, won a competition to design it. A few years ago, I was one of its 3 million annual visitors. I most remember the solemn quiet—in contrast to the atmosphere around other memorials on the National Mall—and the sound of pencil scratchings as visitors made rubbings of names.
Most of Footnote’s digitized historical records are available with a subscription or on a pay-per-view basis, but the virtual Wall exhibit is among the site’s free offerings.
Update: Click Comments, below, for additional tips on searching the database and viewing the Wall.