Since its creation in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has become the most visited National Park Services site. Each year, 4.5 million people come to the Wall. Many of them leave letters or other special objects. Every night, park rangers collect and inventory these mementos—now numbering well over 90,000—and put them into government storage.
Michael Sofarelli, the son of a Vietnam War veteran, has combed through the archives searching for the most gripping letters and objects: a mother awaiting word of her missing son, a former comrade recounting a battle story, a pair of well-worn ballet slippers, and a collection of cigars. These items are not only a tribute to the fallen soldiers; they pay tribute as well to the families and friends who waited at home and the comrades who have never forgotten their brothers. They tell the story of a war that is still being fought by many who served and a conflict that changed the lives of many Americans forever.