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VIPs break ground at Vietnam Memorial education center

7:46 AM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, along with congressional leaders and veterans, lined up Wednesday in Washington for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Education Center, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's next project to honor veterans.(Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)
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Capt. Jesse Melton III, 29, was killed in 2008 in an explosion in Afghanistan. His mother, Janice Chance, wants the world to remember more than just a name.

"His eyes. I want them to see the commitment and pride he's had in his eyes since he was a child," Chance says, clutching two framed photos of her fallen Marine.

Her dream - the dream of many families like hers -- is now a little closer.

On Wednesday, military brass and Washington VIPs broke ground on the Education Center at The Wall.

The center is across the street from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It will tell the stories of the 58,282 servicemembers who died in the Vietnam War, or later as a result of Vietnam service, and those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, says Jan Scruggs, president and founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

"It warms my heart," Chance says. "The center will put a face to the name. It will tell the stories behind all of these heroes."

Once built, the 35,000-square-foot Education Center will have a "Wall of Faces" with photos of fallen servicemembers, a changing display of the more than 400,000 personal items that have been left at the Wall over the past 30 years, a timeline of the Vietnam War and an exhibit about what veterans experienced when they came home.

The center has been in the works for 12 years. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has raised $47 million of the $85 million cost.

"We are a little over halfway there," Scruggs says. "We have a lot of momentum now. We can knock this out of the park."

USA Today

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