Virginia War Memorial reaches out to surviving Vietnamese veterans

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RICHMOND, Virginia – Decades of history line the walls of the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia. The names of nearly 1,500 Virginians who died in the Vietnam War are carved in stone.

Dr. Clay Mountcastle and his memorial staff plan to feature a story and a face with the names.

The upcoming exhibit is titled “50 Years Beyond: The Vietnam Veteran Experience”.

Researchers accept photographs taken of Virginia veterans surviving during the Vietnam War.

Mountcastle remembers leafing through his father’s old photo albums during his military service.

“I was the son of a Vietnam veteran,” said the director of the South Belvidere Street memorial. “I remember my dad’s photo albums sort of going through them and seeing interesting photos of him in places like the central highlands of Vietnam.”

The exhibition will open on January 27, 2023, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

The event marks the official end of United States involvement in the war.

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The Virginia War Memorial

“We’ll take their candid photo and then we’ll have a professional portrait of them now,” Mountcastle said. “It will be part of a full exhibit that captures their images. We will capture some of their stories. We will be able to interview them and record some of their thoughts just like life as a Vietnam veteran over the past 50 years.

Memorial staff have interviewed countless Virginians who fought in Vietnam in the past. These veterans shared stories.

“It’s always scary when someone shoots at you,” said Army veteran Philip Cary Shelton. “I was flying one day and the guy I was flying with got killed. It was kind of personal. His name is on the wall there right now.

Mountcastle hoped to collect many more stories and memories of the war. The memorial will be accepting photos online and by mail until April 30.

“It’s a way of saying thank you that has been delayed in so many ways,” Mountcastle said. “A belated thank you to those who served in Vietnam.”

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