WASHINGTON — The names of the 58,183 Americans who died in the Vietnam War are being read in a poignant ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the black granite monument where those names are inscribed.
At noon Sunday, the first of 1,000 volunteers stood at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, known as "The Wall," and began reading names. The reading continues around the clock until 9 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on Wednesday, which is Veterans Day.
Among the volunteers were activist Jesse Jackson; CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, who covered the war; ABC News reporter Jack Smith; and Jan Scruggs, a Vietnam veteran who worked to get the memorial built and organized the 10th anniversary ceremonies.
Vietnam veterans visiting the wall were choked with emotion.
"It was a very traumatic experience for me.... My fellow schoolmates that we went with ... the four of us that went over there, three of them didn't come back. It was like really moving for me," said Stewart Green, who served from 1967 to 1968 and again in 1969-70.
Another veteran, William Wright, told a reporter: "I can see troops in formation and it all comes back.... It hurts; it hurts a lot."
Some 2.5 million people visit The Wall every year, making it the most popular memorial in the nation's capital. It also has become an emotional shrine for many Vietnam veterans, their relatives and friends.
Other events planned for Veterans Day and the memorial's 10th anniversary include a parade Wednesday and reunions for servicemen and women.