Family and friends of servicemen and women who died or vanished in the Vietnam War no longer have to travel to Washington to pay their respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
An interactive version debuts online this week, a project of historical document archive site Footnote.com in conjunction with the National Archives and Records Administration.
The virtual version of the famous memorial — which is a pair of 246-foot black granite walls inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 American military casualties — is searchable.
Every name etched onto the real-world wall is viewable online and linked to the veteran's service record. Online visitors can add photos and describe their memories of the servicemen and women who died in the war.
Footnote.com Chief Executive Russ Wilding hopes the site will develop into an online community for veterans, family and friends to pay tribute and share their thoughts.
"The memorial is a historical document that obviously is very emotional," he says. "We want the site to help people come together to remember the veterans who were lost."
More than 2,000 photos were taken of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall to create the online version, Wilding said. He said the resulting image is the equivalent of 460 feet wide and the largest of its kind on the Web.
Wednesday was the 26th anniversary of the groundbreaking for construction of the wall, which was completed in November 1982 and officially became a National Monument two years later.