Spreading the Wings of 'the Wall'


JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR-->"The wall": It's not just for the Vietnam War anymore. The folks who brought us the wing-shaped Vietnam Veterans Memorial are making plans for an expansive underground visitor center that will tie all American wars together. "The casualties of the Vietnam War," says memorial founder Jan Scruggs, "are being used metaphorically to show this group of citizens who throughout the nation's history have given literally their lives for freedom."

The plan: Scruggs's Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has come up with a design to include the faces of American war dead, from the Revolutionary War to Baghdad today. How it's done: Upon entering the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, visitors will see the images of those killed in Vietnam. On leaving, they'll see the images of those killed in all other wars.

Retired Gen. Colin Powell, the center's honorary chair, tells Whispers that once built, it will be a fitting end to a tour of all the war memorials. "It all comes down to this common set of values that have moved generation to generation, and we still have it, and let's hope to God we'll have it in the future if the need ever arises," he says.

It's not free. Scruggs, with the help of Powell and others, is trying to raise $75 million to $100 million in three years. "We'll do it," promises Scruggs.