The evidence of Alice Del Rossi's hard work for the past 17 years is only one line and a few words -- Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. -- but on Memorial Day, it proved more than satisfactory.
"I'm at peace. He's at peace. He's where he belongs," said the 72-year-old Stoneham, Mass., resident after official ceremonies for the placement of her brother's name on panel 52 E of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Fitzgibbon joins the list of 58,219 names, including that of his own son, Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Fitzgibbon III, who was killed in Vietnam, at 22, in 1965. They are the only father and son known to have been killed during the Vietnam War.
"What a wonderful commentary for my brother," Del Rossi said. "We're happy for what we accomplished for ourselves and for other men from the war."
Fitzgibbon's was one of five names added to the Wall this year. The others: Terry Lee Barcus, Henry Jackson, David A. Vicario, Doug Chappell.
For 17 years, the Pentagon refused to consider that Fitzgibbon, who was killed by friendly fire in Vietnam in 1956 at age 34, was a casualty of war, Del Rossi said. The Pentagon had always used 1961 as the benchmark for U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
"I couldn't comprehend why a government wouldn't acknowledge he was there and he was killed there," she said. "I wrote to everyone in Washington. I felt this was important."
Enlisting the help of Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Del Rossi launched a campaign to have her brother included as one of the casualties of the Vietnam War. Last year, Markey persuaded the Pentagon to include Fitzgibbon on the memorial.
"As they've joined on the Wall, they will be together always," Markey said. "But this time, instead of being ignored, the very top of the U.S. government recognized them."
"While it's a solemn occasion, it also feels wonderful to be here today. It's also a celebration," said Linda Compas, of San Diego, who was 17 when her brother, the elder Richard, was killed in Vietnam.
Robert Fitzgibbon, who was 12 when his father was killed in Vietnam, said, "I know my father and brother are looking down on us and saying, `Alice, you've done it!' "
Staff writer Lyndsey Layton contributed to this report.
CAPTION: Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr.'s name was one of five added to the Wall this year. Having his name added was difficult because he was killed in Vietnam in 1956, prior to the 1961 benchmark used by the Pentagon.
CAPTION: Eunice Fitzgibbon walks with son Robert after visiting the names of her husband and son Richard Fitzgibbon III, who was killed in Vietnam in '65.