Earlier this week Footnote.com and the National Archives and Records Administration offered a new Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The actual memorial consist of two large granite walls inscribed with the names of over 58,000 American casualties of the way, the online version, which was created by combining over 2,000 photographs of the actual site, make the walls searchable from your home computer. The new version also allows you to link each name to the person’s service record, and add content to the record.

This project is different from a previous one called The Wall, which is maintained by the veterans of the 4th  Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment. The Wall originally went online back in 1996, and has been evolving ever since. The Wall allows you to search by name, but in addition offers links to “Today’s Wall Birthdays” and “Today’s Wall Causalities,” and provides some basic facts of the war.

The physical Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in Washington DC, was designed by Maya Lin, and holds 58,249 names, it is managed by the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. Each day rangers gather items left at the site (except food and flowers), which are then tagged and taken to the Archive for future preservation. Although the full archive is not open to the public, selections of it are on display at the American History Museum.

The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial site does warn that is has been experiencing high traffic, so connections might be slow.

You can read more about the online Vietnam Memorial from an article in Wired Magazine here, and read the Wikipedia entry here.