From the day the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was erected in 1982, it has brought closure and healing to veterans who visit the solemn site. And millions of people visit "The Wall" each year.
How can a memorial bring the same feeling of remembrance and gratitude to those who can't make the trip to Washington every year? The answer is to bring the wall to them.
There's more to the Virtual Wall than searching for veterans by name, though. To safeguard American history and preserve local history, the Virtual Wall allows people to browse and search the names by state and city. More importantly, visitors can read about each individual's death, often see a photo, and read more about their awards and decorations.
Today I learned about my hometown's Vietnam War heroes. (VirtualWall.org)
The Virtual Wall allows visitors to leave photos, memories, poems — basically anything to remember the fallen. It also allows others to see and read those personal memorials.
Related: How to honor Vietnam veterans
Each name on the pages of The Virtual Wall leads to a memorial, written by someone who had a personal connection to the man or woman remembered.
It doesn't have to be from a fellow veteran. It can be from someone who knew them.
While The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Washington's National Mall is operated by the National Parks Service, the Virtual Wall is a creation of private citizens who thought a virtual version of the memorial was a good idea.
It looks a little dated (it was first launched in 1997), but the site is maintained for free, by Integration, Incorporated, a Batavia, N.Y.-based corporation and from "the pockets of three veteran volunteers."
For example, Robert Louis Gunther died Nov. 23, 1967, the result of an artillery-related accident.
The Virtual Wall's founder, Jim Schueckler, is a Vietnam veteran himself and its creation led the effort to the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It is also an official partner of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.