The Vietnam Memorial – by Bill Urich

On this day in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington DC after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The often controversial and long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 58,195 American servicemen and women who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.

The first name originally appearing on the wall is that of USAF Tech. Sgt. Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon, Jr. of Stoneham, MA, who was murdered by another USAF airman, June 8, 1956. The last, USAF 2nd Lt. Richard Vandegeer of Cleveland, OH, a helicopter pilot who perished during rescue operations above the SS Mayaguez, May 15, 1975.

In all, the American losses are among more than 3 million people killed in the Vietnam War, with well more than half that number Vietnamese civilians.

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