"When I reach out and touch their names on the wall, I become a part of that memorial. I become a part of them again."
It draws people born long after the war ended.
"It's very raw emotion."
"Over a hundred million people have come to this memorial since it was built. so it is a part of the American fabric."
Nobody has greater authority to make that statement than Jan Scruggs, two-tour wounded combat veteran who came up with the idea of the Vietnam Memorial,
Scruggs adds, "And it's absolutely an amazing thing, after the dedication in 1982, to see hundreds and hundreds of items that were left there. and this behavior continued year after year after year."
Which is why just as important to American culture as the famous black granite wall is, another unassuming, but massive building 12 miles away is just as important. Blue storage boxes house this National Park Service building's largest, fastest-growing and most unique collection.
Bob Sonderman, Museum Resource Center Director, says, "One of the most remarkable artifacts that has been left at the Memorial is this motorcycle the bike was created to honor their fallen brethren the collar of the throat here are a series of reproduction dog tags."
There's the remarkable but there is also the sad, and the remarkably tragic.
"A returned, unopened care package with this label in the lower right hand corner reading KIA 10/31/72," says Jason Bain, Vietnam Memorial Senior Curator.
Scruggs adds, "This is something that really is interactive. Not by standing back and looking at it, but by making physical contact with it. We will now be showing them on our website."
Copyright issues restrict most institutions from putting their collections online, but the public put this collection together, so starting now, it's yours, and this shows why it needs you even more.
"What we're trying to do is connect the faces and the names."
The website invites you to do that.
"The next stage of this is to bring these thousands of items to the education center."
About 30-million dollars has been raised so far, but much more is needed so the foundation is calling on everyone to accomplish this mission.