NNA board supports project to help war memorial foundation

Jul 2, 2014

By Stanley Schwartz

Managing Editor | Publishers’ Auxiliary

WASHINGTON—The National Newspaper Association board of directors voted to support a project being conducted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, coordinating efforts with state and regional press associations to help locate photos of military personnel who died during the Vietnam War.

NNA Region 6 Director Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier in Mayville, WI, brought the idea to the board’s attention earlier this year with the help of his wife, Laura. Their son, 1st Lt. David A. Johnson, 24, was killed in Afghanistan in 2012 during action in Kandahar province.

In a meeting with VVMF officials, Andrew said he was looking for a way to honor not only his son, but all U.S. veterans. “It’s the very least I can do to honor him,” he said.

Lee Allen, VVMF’s vice president for communications, said there are more than 58,300 names on Vietnam War Memorial, now referred to as The Wall. To date, the VVMF has collected 34,000 photos to place on its Wall of Faces to go in the Education Center at The Wall. The Education Center will be built in the open area adjacent to The Wall. The subterranean structure will house exhibits detailing the Vietnam War in context with other wars fought by the U.S., the Wall of Faces, the collection of items visitors to The Wall have left in memory to those who died, and a timeline of the war.

In addition to the photos, Allen noted that the VVMF has collected $27 million in order to build the Education Center, but needs to raise a total of $115 to finish the project. All the money comes from private donations. There is no government money involved.

Allen said they wanted to put faces to the names on The Wall, which is why they are collecting photos. And not just photos in uniform said Allyson Shaw, manager of communications and media relations. VVMF is seeking photos of them with their favorite cars, going to the prom, etc. “We want to tell the stories of each person on The Wall.”

The closer they come to having all the photos, Allen said, the more difficult it will become.

“It will take great effort at the grassroots level,” he said.

“This is custom made for people like us,” said NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr. He attended the VVMF meeting along with David Bordwyck, a representative of the Newspaper Association Managers. Williams noted that community newspapers are uniquely qualified to reach the smaller towns all across the country in order to get out the word about the Wall of Faces project.

Allen said he was honored and thrilled that NNA was willing to help.

“It is in hometown newspapers where we shine,” Allen added. “It’s where we get the most response for photos.”

Allen said he hopes that the VVMF will have the funds it needs to start building 30,000-square foot facility sometime in 2016, and then have the two-story center completed for a grand opening in 2019.

The idea is to display the photos of those who died on their birthdays—to celebrate their lives not their deaths. The photos will be enlarged to eight feet tall in the center of The Wall of Faces.

Because of this, Shaw said, the minimum resolution they can take is 600 dpi, but they will take what they can get.

“We don’t want original photos,” she said. The VVMF would prefer scanned photos. She suggested that community newspapers find and partner with a local retailer that can scan the photos. NNA is asking state press associations to coordinate receiving the photos and passing them along to the VVMF. More information is available at the VVMF website at www.vvmf.org.

In addition to getting the word out to community newspapers, NNA said it would provide house ads newspapers could use to help promote The Wall of Faces project.

It takes an act of Congress to have a war memorial built in Washington. And that can only take place 10 years after the cessation of arms.

Because of this, Allen said, the education center will also house the names and photos of all U.S. service personnel who have died since Sept. 11, 2001.

“We want to stand in that gap,” he said, “and post those photos until they have a home of their own.”

As part of this, the VVMF will host the National Reading of the Names on May 24, 2014, at The Wall. It’s a daylong event that will honor all those who served, not just those who died, Allen said.

The Johnsons said they plan to travel to Washington and join in the reading.

Jan C. Scruggs, the founder and president of VVMF, wrote that “The Education Center at The Wall will make it possible for this and future generations to connect with those who served wearing their nation’s uniform, as well as those who died, ensuring that their service and sacrifices will always be treasured and that their legacies will never be forgotten.”



To get more information on what photos are still needed, see the links below:

1. Go to: http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/

2. Click Advanced Search, to the right of the search box

3. Input a city, county, or state name based on the desired search

4. Scroll to the last box and check: Does Not Have a Default Photo

5. Hit Submit

This will yield the most current results for the names of Vietnam veterans missing.