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Vietnam Vets Clean Memorial Wall Weekly, They Just Got Powerful Help

The Vietnam War Memorial is a national memorial in Washington D.C. honoring those members of the U.S. armed forces who fought and died, and those who were reported and remain missing in action. Engraved in the 2-acre long wall are the names of 58,207 service men and women. The gleaming monument is visited by millions of people every year looking to pay tribute. It's not an easy task keeping it clean, but local Veteran groups are not going to let down those whose names have been etched in the black marble.

The wall can get pretty dirty. It's open 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. People can touch it, rest their heads on it, cry on it or embrace it. No one is discouraged from touching the wall.

One tradition is for people to use paper and pencil to make a rubbing of the engraved names. Loved ones come from all over the world to get a rubbing of their beloved family members, and they are encouraged to carry on this tradition. Paper and pencils are handed out at the wall just in case some people forgot, or didn't know, to bring their own.

Unfortunately, all the handling of this monument caused it to fall into disrepair in the 1990s. Some veterans visited in the wall and were unhappy with the state of it. The wall, which was only cleaned once per month at the time by the National Park Service, was getting very dingy between cleanings.

Local veteran groups then stepped up to offer their volunteer services. Now, the wall gets a good scrubbing about once per week during peak tourist season. The cleaning is usually performed before sunrise, when there are usually no crowds.

It's a tough job; the 247-foot wall needs to be sprayed down and scrubbed by hand, then it requires a lot of elbow grease to polish it. But it's a labor of love for veterans, and it's their honor.

Source: IJR
Photo: IJR

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