At Vietnam Memorial, Growing List Honors Fallen

Nearly 30 years after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was erected, names are still being added. Jim Wildman/NPR hide caption

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itoggle caption Jim Wildman/NPR

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened in 1982, but it remains unfinished.

Though Maya Lin's granite design included almost 58,000 names of U.S. men and women who were killed or missing in the Vietnam War, space was left open for new names to be added. More than 300 names have been added over the years.

Many who were wounded in the conflict died outside the war zone or died years later. That's what happened to Dennis O. Hargrove of Burns, Tenn. Multiple gunshot wounds he suffered in 1969 left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. He died in 1987, and his sister petitioned the Defense Department to include his name in the official tally of war dead.

Hargrove's name is one of four added to the memorial this year. They were carved in earlier this month by two stone engravers using a special sandblaster. Visitors can pick out the additions by counting six names on a line — one more than the original design.

The newest names are made official during Memorial Day ceremonies.

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