Vietnam Veterans memorial
East lawn of the Insurance Building on the west campus
- Artist- Kris Snider (designing architect)
- Endorsing Entities- 1,466 private contributors, through the organization of the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee
- Dedication Date- May 25, 1987 (groundbreaking November 11, 1986)
Materials- green granite
- Inscriptions- 'Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial,' 'To all my brothers and sisters who made it back, but never made it home. In memory of those who have died from physical and emotional wounds received while serving in the Vietnam War. We honor and recognize their pain and suffering, but above all we respect the courage of these Washington State residents. When our country called, you were there. We have not forgotten, you are not alone. You Now Rest in Glory,' names of the 1,124 state residents killed or missing.
- List of Washington State Killed in Action (KIA)
History & significance:
This monument is actually the second remembrance of those killed in Vietnam to be erected on the Capitol campus. The first memorial honoring those Washingtonians killed in Vietnam was dedicated on November 11, 1982 by then-Governor John Spellman. The monument consisted of a scroll listing the names of the state’s Vietnam casualties encased in marble. Many surviving Vietnam Veterans were unhappy with this first memorial, and felt that the enclosed scroll 'entombed' the memory of their fallen comrades.
A group of Veterans soon began lobbying for a new memorial that would better honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. A number of other groups and individuals joined in the fundraising effort to erect a memorial displaying the names of Washingtonians killed or missing in action. Secretary of State Ralph Munro was particularly influential in rallying public and government support for the new memorial. Ultimately, the fundraising work was such a success that the $178,000 project was funded entirely by private means. A total of 1,466 individuals, groups, and corporations donated money—the majority in amounts less than $25. Shortly before the widely-attended dedication ceremony on Memorial Day, May 25, 1987, the memorial committee returned the money that had been donated by the state government.
The site selected for the memorial was a grassy knoll under a large shade tree. This area was chosen specifically because of the quiet solitude it affords. Seattle architect Kris Snyder of EDAW, Inc. of Seattle designed the memorial, which consists of a semi-circular, green granite wall stretching partially around a forty-five foot base. The wall represents the circle of life, and the top of the wall rises and falls in a rolling course, symbolizing the highs and lows that occur in our existence. The wall runs unimpaired except for a large crack in the shape of North and South Vietnam. The cut symbolizes the break in the circle of life caused by the war.
Etched into the wall are the names of the 1,123 Washingtonians killed or missing in the war, positioned in such a way that they can be touched and read by all, including children and those in wheelchairs. The names are listed chronologically by date of death from July, 1963 to May, 1975 beginning on the right side of the wall and continuing left around the memorial. To read the names, begin in panel 1, top of the right column; then move to the top of the second column reading right to left and top to bottom. A small cross is engraved next to the names of those who remain missing in action. There are small holes next to all the names so that mementos may be left in remembrance. All items left are collected and placed in the state archives.
- 1986—Construction began on the memorial with groundbreaking on November 11th.
- 1987—Construction was completed, and a dedication ceremony was held on May 25th.
- 1988—The names of 36 more Washington Vietnam veterans were added to the memorial on April 6th.
- 1990—The names of four Washington Vietnam Veterans were added to the memorial on June 26th.
- 1997—The words, 'To all my brothers and sisters who made it back, but never made it home. In memory of those who have died from physical and emotional wounds received while serving in the Vietnam War. We honor and recognize their pain and suffering, but above all we respect the courage of these Washington State residents. When our country called, you were there. We have not forgotten, you are not alone. You Now Rest in Glory' were added as a tribute to Vietnam veterans who didn’t die in action, but have since passed away or are still suffering from physical and emotional effects of the conflict. The words were compiled from entries by Vietnam veterans throughout the state who were asked what they wanted the tribute to say.
Also added to the memorial in this same year was the name Lt. John Cecil Driver, the 41st to be added since the wall’s dedication.
- 2016—CDR Domenick Anthony Spinelli’s name is added to the memorial and unveiled on Memorial Day. Domenick 'Spike' Anthony Spinelli remains unaccounted for, and on the Memorial his name is followed by a '+' symbol, which indicates his remains have not been recovered. Spinelli’s name was inscribed twenty-nine years after the memorial’s original dedication in 1987, and brings the total number of Washington State residents listed on the memorial to 1,124.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial also underwent several repairs and renovations, including the installation of new lighting, the repair of several cracks in the granite and new caulking.
During the first week of June, additional updates to the symbols indicating servicemembers were Missing In Action will be made. For those who were originally listed as missing by the Department of Defense, a '+' symbol was included next to the name. For those whose remains have been recovered, the '+' symbol will be etched into a diamond symbol signifying that they are no longer missing.