Vietnam Memorial

Memorial Day

May 27, 2013
Gelatin silver print, 1945
Joe Rosenthal / Wide World/Associated Press/Library of Congress

May 27th, the last Monday in May, is Memorial Day. Americans pause to remember and honor those who died defending our country. The observance began at Waterloo, NY on May 5, 1865, as a tribute to Union Soldiers.

For years, Southern states had separate Memorial Days. For example, Tennessee's was June 3.

Memorial Day now honors the dead of all wars in which the United States has fought. Congress declared it a Federal Holiday in 1971. Tennessee is nicknamed the Volunteer State because so many of its citizens have enlisted when needed.

Vacclav /

The Vietnam War was one of the signal events of the last half of the 20th century.  It was controversial, and the controversy continued long after the war ended.  

The Vietnam Memorial Wall itself was the subject of much debate.  When the design was unveiled, many felt it was not "monumental" enough, but, since its unveiling, it has become an icon, a fitting and moving memorial to the more than 58,000 American military personnel who died during the war.