Space on the Mall

Christopher Knight’s article, “America’s Maul” (April 20), was as absurdly mistitled as it was grossly inaccurate in commenting on the planned visitor center for America’s youth at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

What has become known as “the Wall” remains the most visited memorial in Washington, D.C. Knight’s opposition to the center simply parrots the arguments used unsuccessfully to stop the grand memorial from being placed on the Mall. We prevailed in 1980 against the smaller-minded who failed to stop the Wall from being placed in its prominent location between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Today, the Wall is older than many of its visitors’ youngsters who need to learn. A visitor center will transform the memorial into a profound learning experience unlike any other in the world.

In the underground center, youngsters will view photographs of those killed in Vietnam; then they will visit the names on the Wall. Experienced educators will provide valuable information to help facilitate learning among the teachers and students.


Knight’s idea of a military museum miles away from the Wall could never accomplish what an on-site visitor center will accomplish. That is why three former U.S. presidents, respected educators, veterans groups and people such as third-grader Abby Friend support this project.

Abby writes, “Some people don’t know about the Vietnam War. I understand why the center should be built there. It will help people to learn.”

The California Legislature unanimously endorsed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center Act (H.R. 1442), introduced by Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Tracy).

Abby and those like her will not be denied an opportunity to learn at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Jan C. Scruggs

Washington, D.C.

Jan C. Scruggs is the founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.



The filling of the Washington Mall represents the filling of the rest of America by parking lots, housing developments and freeways. What better way for our congressional representatives to view the “suburbification of America” than by looking from their offices out over the Mall.

Carol A. Kirgis