Vietnam War memorial wall goes virtual

People wishing to pay respects to the 58,000 U.S. servicemen and -women who were killed or went missing during the Vietnam War but cannot travel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington can now do so from their desktops computers.

The National Archives and Records Administration and Footnote.com, a company that specializes in digitizing historic documents, today launched a searchable digital replica of the wall. Users can post photos and comments and view information about veterans. Footnote.com partnered with NARA to make digitized copies of photos from the war available on its Web site and to link the service records and casualty reports to the names on the digital wall. Visitors can search the digital wall by name to see photographs of the entries on the physical wall and related information that has been posted.

To build the digital wall, the company hired a photographer to take almost 1,500 digital photographs of the actual wall that were then recreated into one digital representation.

Justin Schroepfer, Footnote.com’s marketing director, said the company is in the process of digitizing more than 50,000 of NARA’s Vietnam photos, which can be accessed at no charge from any computer on Footnote.com through April and permanently at no cost from NARA locations.

The arrangement is similar in practice to other agreements that Footnote.com has reached with NARA to digitize select collections of records and historical documents.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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