Sanibel man etched 100 names into the Capitol’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

One by one, a man etched the names of one hundred soldiers on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. That man lives on Sanibel Island.

WINK News reporter Amy Galo sat down with him on Vietnam War Appreciation Day Wednesday to ask him about the honor he feels being a part of the renowned memorial.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., features 58,000 names. Behind each one is a story.

“It was such a spiritually divined area because so many people came to express their emotions, and it just became sacred,” said Lucas Century, who engraved names onto the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Engraving the many names onto one memorial almost didn’t happen. Then Century stepped up.

“I was coming up with a process that involves photo stenciling, allowing you to typeset the names and then photo mechanically reproduced it in a stencil that would resist sandblasting,” said Century.

Lucas Century engraving the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Credit: Shared with WINK News)

Century taught others his technique, paving the way for the creators of the wall to add the names.

“The general contractor told them there was no way to put those names on the wall. I kind of called out of the blue. I was just like just this guy that came up with an idea. And so they saw it as a saving grace,” said Century.

The wall debuted in 1982 with only 57,900 names. Century brought the total up to 58,000 and said it was tough adding names in public with the loved ones of those who died in Vietnam looking on. “It was heart-wrenching.”

It was healing too. Today, Century’ lives in Sanibel in a makeshift studio, and his technique lives on in his work and that of other artists.

“It’s great being involved in advancing the state of the art in the industry. And the timing for the memorial was was I’m so it’s so amazing that I was involved there. And so it’s been a life of remembrance for me,” Century said.

Century has lived on Sanibel for about 40 years. His work can be found all around Southwest Florida, from nine installations at FGCU to glasses for local businesses. He says they are all meaningful to him.

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