This year’s International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) Exposition in Nashville was another amazing success. Amid the hustle and bustle of the exposition hall, members of the funeral and cremation industry connected with old and new colleagues and friends. The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association was founded in 1887, and is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, cremation, funeral and memorialization industry. Its membership is composed of more than 7,500 property locations consisting of cemeteries, funeral homes, crematories, memorial designers and related businesses worldwide.
Among the numerous organizations in attendance, hosting some of the most eye catching and educational displays and booths, were The ‘One Hundred Black Women of Funeral Services’ . During a beautiful private reception, veterans (active duty and the fallen) were honored by his existing accomplishments and learn of what’s ahead to continue the group’s timeless honors.
Who is the man and the visionary who launched a living tribute that has captivated the minds, hearts and memories of years past? Jan Craig Scruggs, attorney. In 1979, Jan Craig Scruggs conceived the idea of building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., as a tribute to all who served during one of the longest wars in American history.
Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is among the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. Attendees were able to re-familiarize themselves with or meet C. Scruggs.
Scruggs was a wounded and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, having served in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Army. He felt a memorial would serve as a healing device for a different kind of wound, one that was inflicted on our national psyche by the long and controversial Asian war.
Scruggs launched the effort with $2,800 of his own money and gradually gained the support of other Vietnam veterans in persuading Congress to provide a prominent location on federal government property somewhere in Washington, D.C. After a difficult struggle, Congress responded, and the site chosen was on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.
As president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Inc., the nonprofit organization created to build and maintain the memorial, Scruggs headed up the effort that raised $8.4 million and saw the memorial completed in just two years. It was dedicated on November 13, 1982, during a weeklong national salute to Vietnam veterans in the nation’s capital.
A decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, Scruggs sparred with Congress, the media and powerful people who were determined to end plans for the memorial.
But he persevered, and after the completion of the memorial, Scruggs, along with author Joel L. Swerdlow, wrote To Heal a Nation—the moving story of Scruggs’ efforts to build the Vietnam Wall. In May 1988, it became an NBC Movie of the Week.
Scruggs continues to advise VVMF in its mission to remember those who sacrificed in Vietnam by building the Education Center at The Wall.
The Education Center will show the photos and tell the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War, as well as celebrate the values embodied by American service members in all of our nation’s wars.
He has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline, Good Morning America and The Today Show as well as C-SPAN, CNN and FOX. He has written opinion articles for The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Times and other national and regional publications.
A national speaker and author, Scruggs has written articles on a wide range of topics, including the Civil War and the battle of Gettysburg. Scruggs is a native of Washington, D.C, and grew up in Bowie, Md. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from American University in Washington, D.C., and his law degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Scruggs is an accomplished attorney and the author of over 100 articles. To read the names of many who served and paid the highest price for our country, visit: .
To connect with Scruggs or to support the new vision of the forthcoming tribute ‘The Global War on Terror,’ visit: www.gwotmemorialfoundation.org.