• A man visits the Vietnam Memorial Wall May 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. People around the United States celebrate Memorial Day to honor veterans and those members of the US military who have fallen in past and present wars. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)

    Welcome Home

    A Memorial for the 7,000 Fallen

    The Education Center at the Wall will display photos of the fallen, writes the founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

    This year is the 30th anniversary of the Wall, where America’s Vietnam veterans were finally welcomed home in 1982. It was a tad ironic that we had to build and fund our own memorial. I actually led the effort to have on the Mall in Washington the names of the nearly 60,000 service members who died or who were left Missing in Action in South East Asia. But once Congress approved the Memorial, it was designed, funded, and built in three years.

    Now there is another mission. The veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan need a welcome home. Year after year these men and women have been sent to fight. But the fighting, it appears, is coming to a close at the end of 2014—the deadline chosen by the president and Congress to end combat operations in Afghanistan. These veterans deserve their own national memorial, but the draconian process of first getting Congressional consensus authorizing that memorial and then planning and building it will take decades, not years.