On Monday we in the United States will celebrate Veterans Day to commemorate all those men and women who fought to keep our country free. The Commonwealth of Nations, comprised of 53 members throughout the world, will observe a similar tradition, known as Remembrance Day. Both events came about after the First World War, which was ended by an armistice signed “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” or 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
One distinct difference between Veterans Day and Remembrance Day is that here in the U.S. the day is meant primarily to express gratitude to living veterans for their service, while in Canada and other members of the Commonwealth it is a remembrance of those who died in the line of duty. (We in the U.S. set aside Memorial Day for that purpose.)
These commemorations strike home with me because my family tree is full of those who have served this country in the armed forces. My maternal grandfather was career military. My parents met while my father was in the Air Force. My oldest brother did a tour in the Marine Corps (anyone with any familiarity with the Corps will know that “there is no such thing as a former Marine”); my other brother spent two years at the Air Force Academy before deciding his career lay with computers. I did my own stint in uniform. Various uncles and cousins of both sexes have served in all branches of the U.S. armed forces, with the possible exception of the Coast Guard. One of my oldest cousins fought in the Vietnam War; to this day he continues to suffer the effects of being exposed to Agent Orange.
Although my cousin is one of the lucky ones to have come home alive from Vietnam, the 58,276 names etched in the black granite panels that comprise the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. are a permanent reminder of those who paid the ultimate price, or whose fate remains unknown. Each of those names belonged to a man or woman who was a son or daughter, who had families, loves, lives beyond their time in uniform. To preserve their legacy, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund began The Wall of Faces, which is committed to finding a photo to go with each name on the Memorial Wall. The project began in 2013; as of October photos had been found for all but 405 names.
Utah is one of the states for which photos for all those listed on the Memorial Wall have been found, but this is not the case for family and friends from other places. The states for which photos remain missing are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Your help is needed to find photos for those last 405 names.
If you have a friend or family member whose name is inscribed upon the Memorial Wall, you can check whether their photo has been posted by visiting http://www.vvmf.org/missing-photos. For those veterans who already have a photo posted, additional images may be uploaded at www.vvmf.org/wall-of-faces or a copy of an original photo may be sent to Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Attn: The Wall of Faces, 1235 South Clark St., Suite 910, Arlington, VA 22202.
Digital photos must be under 5MB in size and in the .gif, .jpeg or .jpg format. The file name must not include symbols. Print photos should be the highest quality photocopy of the original, with a glossy finish. If possible, the size should be 8x10. Write on the envelope that a photo is enclosed.
For information about adding a photograph to The Wall of Faces, contact VVMF at 202-393-0090 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marie Mischel is editor of the Intermountain Catholic. Contact her at email@example.com.