The New York City Vietnam Memorial is located at 55 Water Street, one block east of Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington bade farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War. This towering wall of remembrance was erected in 1985, ten years after the Vietnam Era, in honor of the brave men and women who served during the Southeastern Asia conflict between 1961 and 1975.
The excerpts etched into the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial were chosen from letters, diary entries, and poems written by Americans during the Vietnam Era, which were submitted to the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission. These quotes are supplemented by news dispatches and public statements about the war and they were etched into the glass block of the 16-foot high, 66-foot long memorial.
To read what is written in each section on the glass wall go here and click onto the diagram.
In 1998 brand new feature was also added to the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial cataloguing the 1,741 names of those New Yorkers who made the highest sacrifice in the service of their homeland. The Walk of Honor, as it is called, includes 12 pylons leading up to the original memorial wall.
On the memorial website you can click on a letter of the alphabet, to find the name and information on someone you may know from New York who perished in Vietnam. Click on their name to post, or read, a tribute to them that someone has written on the web site.
A map of Southeast Asia, also fabricated in stainless steel, greets visitors at the beginning of the Walk. It sets the scene, and offers the names of places in which American troops fought and died in Southeast Asia.
In addition to the names of all New York servicemen killed in Vietnam, there are three special plaque engravings of distinguished servicemen and details about them in one area of the memorial.
The photo below is of Private First Class Dan Bullock, a Marine who lied about his age in order to enlist, and was only 15 years of age when he was killed in action on June 7, 1969. He was the youngest American killed in the Vietnam conflict.
Specialist Four George C. Lang was awarded in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.
Lieutenant Vincent R. Capodanno was posthumously the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of Duty as Chaplain, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.
The following is a poem written by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell, from Springfield Illinois, killed in action on March 24, 1970. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. His poem is inscribed on the glass wall:
"If you are able,
save for them a place
inside of you…
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go…
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always…
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own…
And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind… "
~ Maj. Michael Davis O’Donnell