Six flags representing each branch of the military--Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Merchant Marines--fly just outside the south end of the Shrine of Memory at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Of the nearly 12,000 names etched on the stone and glass walls of the Shrine, 1,303 represent the brave men and women that called Virginia “home” and made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Vietnam. The important remainder represents those that perished in World War II, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War. In addition, nearly 300 names are memorialized for their sacrifice in the Global War on Terror.
Faces of Freedom
In an effort to turn cold, sterile numbers into visual representations that connect us more deeply with those from the Commonwealth that grace the walls of the Shrine, the Memorial has embarked on a mission to collect photos of these brave service men and women to tell a more complete story of their sacrifice. Kyndall Drumheller, of the Virginia War Memorial, is charged with this task that sometimes seems insurmountable. “Of the 1,200 Vietnam Vets from the Commonwealth that were killed in action, we have only been able to locate 186 photos to honor them,” she said. Drumeheller’s personal ties to a family member and a friend that are memorialized on the walls of the Shrine offer motivation to see the Faces of Freedom project to fruition.
With limited funds and resources to procure photos from government agencies, the War Memorial is appealing to those with ties to the Commonwealth to come forward with photographs that will help develop the stories of those that paid the ultimate price for our country through their service. While seeing the 12,000 names etched in stone and glass proves to be a powerful reminder of the depth of overall sacrifice, the photos, which are housed on the War Memorial website, paint more vivid pictures of each individual and assist in providing a constant reminder of the humanity of those that gave their lives to secure our freedom.
To find out if your friend or loved one is represented on the Memorial’s Shrine of Memory, please visit the Veteran’s Database at vawarmemorial.org. For additional information, or to submit photos, please contact Kyndall Drumheller at 804.786.2060, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When submitting photos, you are encouraged to include unit and branch of service, date and place of death, and any other biographical facts that will help complete the story of your hero. Photographs in uniform are especially appreciated.