WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial has become an important stop on the tour of monuments in the nation’s capital. This year, the memorial turns 40 years old, and the idea behind it all came from Jan Scruggs, who is a Vietnam War veteran himself.

The Bowie, Maryland native joined the United States Army right out of high school. He was an infantryman and fought in Vietnam for two years, earning a purple heart for his service.

He said he had post-traumatic stress disorder after coming back, and building the memorial was part of his healing journey.

Scruggs said, “This had to be done. I was convinced that it had to be done. We had a lot of fighting and controversy, and we just kept our eyes on the target and we got this done.”

Scruggs said 5.5 million people come to see the memorial each year. He said it is a stunning accomplishment that he is proud to have gotten done.

“It really touches people’s heart because they see the names and they know that this was a person who was part of the country at one time and gave his or her life for what the country asked him or her to do,” Scruggs said.

The memorial continues to make an impact on those who stop to see it or just walk by and see tributes left for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

cruggs explained, “What differentiates the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial from the other memorials in Washington, D.C., people bring these people to life again.”