Vietnam Memorial Has Spelling Errors Set In Stone | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Vietnam Memorial Has Spelling Errors Set In Stone

Play associated audio

As National Park Service officials consider how to change a truncated quote on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, another group continues to slowly chip away at another set of mistakes on a monument that were also — literally — set in stone.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., has more than 58,000 names of service members engraved in 144 panels of stone. But after the monument was erected in 1982, some of the names were found to be misspelled.

Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, says the monument is still "probably the most accurate memorial in the entire world."

"But 1/10th of 1 percent of the names — a little bit over 100 — were misspelled," Scruggs says. "Sixty-two of them have been re-engraved."

Scruggs says it costs about $4,000 to fix each name. Sometimes the change is easy — like changing an "L" into an "E." But other times, it means moving the name to another spot on the wall.

"The second name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial — as statistically improbable as it may sound — is actually one of those spelled incorrectly," Scruggs says.

His name is Chester Ovnand — not Charles, as carved on the memorial. Ovnand was killed by the Viet Cong in 1959 while watching a movie. Scruggs said the foundation ended up moving Ovnand's name to a different panel.

"Historically, that removes everything from the way this memorial was designed," he says. "The names of the people who died together are on the wall together and they are alphabetized by day. So when we found a place to put his name, we had to put him in with the 1966 casualties."

But Scruggs says not every family chooses to have the mistakes corrected. Evangelista Pagan Rodriguez's first name is misspelled as "Evangelis" on the memorial. Scruggs says the family wanted to keep the Army private where he was on the wall — with the others who died in Vietnam on Nov. 26, 1966.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Night At The Fiestas' Spins Stories Of Faith And Family

Kirstin Valdez Quade's debut book of short fiction is inspired by her family and its long history in the "romanticized" region of northern New Mexico.
NPR

Not Just Sugary-Sweet, Hard Cider Makes A Comeback

Cider is the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in the United States. Much of that growth is driven by big industrial producers, but smaller cider-makers are looking for a larger bite of the apple.
NPR

Nigerian President Faces Tough Reelection Campaign

Nigerians head to the polls Saturday to vote for their new president. The incumbent Goodluck Jonathan faces former military leader, Muhammadu Buhari, who says he's tough on security and corruption.
NPR

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.