"I had a theory that we could put all the names on the wall. This is based on the thought of Carl Jung, a student of Freud. [He] writes about collective psychological states, and how we're all sort of drawn together," he says. "Certain things hold us together. People who die in wars for a country, this is something we all agree on, you can't forget them."
April 30, 2015 - On a perfect spring morning, Jan Scruggs walks along the site overlooking the wall of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, D.C. Contrasting the bright colors of blooming trees and flowers, is the black granite carved with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who served during the war.
Scruggs, a veteran himself, is credited with getting the memorial built. He's now preparing to retire. Morning Edition met Scruggs to learn the story of how the memorial was built, honoring the dead from a war that ended in 1975, 40 years ago on April 30.
"This is absolutely the perfect day to do this because you can see the even flow of human traffic here," he says. "What kinds of people? There are 14-year-old people, 15-year-old people."
Scruggs says the design was really meant to help veterans manage post-traumatic stress while also helping the country move on without forgetting.
"Just as the individual military participants in the Vietnam War needed to be healed, so too did the entire nation," he says.
Scruggs says that when he first saw the design he knew it "was going to be difficult to explain." His Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund needed public relations crisis managers to help answer those persistent questions.
"'Why is it that every monument in Washington is white but this one's black," he recalls. "'Why is it that every monument in Washington is rising into the air and this one is buried beneath the ground?'"
For such a busy spot, the scene was also very quiet. Scruggs explains why:
"You can have a bunch of noisy school kids," he says. "They're noisy around here but once they get down to the wall, it quiets them down because they feel like they're inside of a church or a religious institution. They feel like they're inside all of a sudden. And people have been noticing that for years."
It becomes apparent that Scruggs still feels it, even after all this time. read more & listen in>>>