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A 35 Year Legacy Honoring the Fallen

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2022

A small group of Philadelphian Vietnam Veterans launched a campaign in the spring of 1984 to honor the then-630 young men identified as being killed in the war.

A city ordinance authorized the establishment of the Memorial and a design by Perry M. Morgan, a then – 27-year-old architect, was selected the following year. What followed was an extraordinary, grass-roots fundraising effort where veterans both individually and in groups began organizing events to raise $1.2 million for the Memorial construction.

With a theme of Operation Brotherly Love, a group of 10 veterans drew national headlines when they formed the “The Last Patrol” and marched from the Washington Vietnam Veterans Memorial over six days in May 1987 to bring back the tracings of the Philadelphians killed in Vietnam. Those tracings are interred in the south side of the Memorial.

During October 26-27, 1987, the Memorial was dedicated with a ceremony and parade that received live TV coverage. Since the dedication, 18 names have been added for a total of 648, the most recent was two soldiers who were added to the Wall of Names on Memorial Day 2016.

The original design of the Memorial was an enclosed amphitheater, which unfortunately hid acts of vandalism, such as skateboarding, and also obscured most of the Memorial from public view. In 2007, the PVVM Fund Board launched a campaign to raise more than $1 million to open the Spruce Street side of the Memorial, which was completed and rededicated on Memorial Day, 2015.

The board’s vision has been to make the Memorial a place for learning, as well as honoring the dead. To that end, we have developed an extensive education program for Philadelphia schools. To place the war in context, the Republic of Vietnam Heritage and Freedom Monument, honoring the Allied sacrifice in the War, was completed after an extensive fund-raising campaign by the Philadelphia Vietnamese Community, and dedicated in April 2015.

One year later, the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Memorial Foundation, composed of Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans, dedicated an eight-foot high statue of the only Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War from Philadelphia.

In 2018, the Board completed the National POW/MIA Monument on the south side of the site to honor all those from the Vietnam War.

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A 35 Year Legacy Honoring the Fallen